The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, February 26, 2021

Faithfulness and Fortitude

The Right Reverend Geoffrey Woodcroft, the thirteenth clergyman consecrated into the Apostolic Order to have occupied the diocesan See of Rupert’s Land and its present incumbent, was recently featured in an article by John Longhurst of the Winnipeg Free Press.   Now, one must keep in mind that when it comes to the Winnipeg Free Press, which has been an organ for Liberal Party disinformation since the days when it was edited by John Wesley Dafoe – 1901 to 1944 – it is best not to believe everything one reads or even, for that matter, to give the paper the benefit of the doubt.   If you assume that the exact opposite of what the Winnipeg Free Press says on any given subject is true, you will be right more often than not and will be far better informed than are most people in our city.   That caveat having been given, let us consider what has been reported about our diocesan shepherd. 


According to Longhurst, Bishop Geoff and Susan Johnson who presides over the “Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada” (see, I told you the Winnipeg Free Press could not be trusted, that is supposed to be “in Canada” not “of Canada”) have signed what Longhurst calls “an international interfaith declaration that calls for an end to violence against and criminalization of LGBTTQ+ people and a global ban on conversion therapy.”


Before offering any thoughts upon the act so reported, the signing of the declaration, let us hear what His Grace has to say by way of explanation of this.   He is quoted by Longhurst as having said “I signed because of the relationships I have within the church with transgender and LGBTTQ+ people, people I nurture and care for, just like everyone else in the church” and “When the world is hurting someone, I’m going to stand by that person being hurt.”


With regards to the first of these sentences there is not much to say.  Certainly, His Grace is to be commended for attempting to follow the example set by St. Paul of “I am become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some”, although I tend to be of the opinion that it would be more advisable to do so in a way of which the Apostle would approve rather than by signing political declarations over which he would have pronounced an anathema.   The practice of providing the same nurture and care for all in the church is also commendable and a fairly basic expectation of someone in a pastoral role, perhaps especially of the one who carries the crosier (this is the fancy name for the bishop’s big stick, bishops having long followed the advice of St. Teddy of Roosevelt to “talk softly and carry a big stick”, in their case one shaped to look like a shepherd’s crook, symbolic of the office of the chief pastor of the diocesan church and very useful on occasions where he is required to emcee events, whenever a speaker drones on too long or in a boring fashion, or when an impromptu hockey or cricket game breaks out).   Why this pastoral duty would require the signing of this particular political declaration, however, remains a mystery that has not been satisfactorily explained.


His second sentence also expresses a most commendable sentiment.   Indeed, it is so commendable it is worth hearing again so here it is “When the world is hurting someone, I’m going to stand by that person being hurt.”   Speaking out for and standing by those whom the world is hurting is indeed a part of the prophetic vocation of Christian leadership.  Most, if not all, of the duties of Christian leaders or even the duties of Christians in general, require the exercise of a particular virtue or set of virtues and this is no exception.    The most obvious virtue called for here is the one traditionally called fortitude, which is more commonly called courage or bravery.


The thing about the act of standing up for the weak, the helpless, the little guy, the person who is being picked on and beaten up by the world is that the further away you are from that person in place and time, the less courage the act requires, and therefore the less virtuous the act becomes.    This is especially true if the person whom you are standing up for was picked on and beaten up by the world in another time and place but in your own time and place has become the one doing the picking on and the beating up.   Would it not be accurate to say that in such a circumstance the act has lost all of its virtue?   Indeed, might it not even be fair to say that it has been transformed into the opposite of a virtuous act and become a vicious one?


In Longhurst’s description of this international interfaith declaration he said that it called for two things.   The first was “an end to violence against and criminalization of LGBTTQ+ people” and the second was “a global ban on conversion therapy”.   With regards to the second of these items, apart from the fact that it would be a major departure from the older, better, kind of liberalism ala J. S. Mill with its central tenet of freedom of religion, I will note that it is rather inconsistent with the spirit of openness, inclusivity and acceptance that those who drafted this declaration presumably wished to be perceived as their motivation.   After all, our governments now, for better or worse, allow doctors to perform what until very recently would have been regarded as genital mutilations in order to accommodate those who were born of one sex physically, but who self-identify as members of the other.    What about people who were born gay, as we have been repeatedly told by such authorities as Stefani Germanotta is the source of this orientation, but who self-identify as straight?   Or for that matter people who were born transgender who self-identify as cis-gender?   Would not conversion therapy be to such people the equivalent of gender reassignment surgery to those who regard their anatomy as inconsistent with their self-chosen sexual or gender identity?   Where is the openness, acceptance, and tolerance of such people?   This is not being very inclusive in my opinion.


Now, with regards to the first item, are “violence against” and “criminalization of” LGBTTQAEIOUandsometimesY people, hereafter to be referred to as the alphabet soup crowd, serious problems in the Dominion of Canada in the Year 2021 AD?


The “criminalization of” part of it certainly is not.   Homosexuality was legalized in Canada in 1969, when the first Trudeau declared that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation”, a remark which has since been re-interpreted ex post facto to include the exception “unless a new virus is going around in which case the state is required to enter every room of the house and force you to wear a mask and keep apart from others.”   There has been no serious attempt to re-criminalize it since.   This sort of liberalization of the Criminal Code was occurring throughout the entire Commonwealth at the time and it is worth noting that the laws which were being removed had not had much bite to them.   This is because the principle that a “man’s home is his castle”, which in effect keeps the state not just out of the bedroom but out of the house entirely, had been a part of the Common Law tradition longer than these laws had been on the books.   Thus, apart from police harassment of gay bars and other establishments, (1) the only real way to run afoul of such laws had been to do something incredibly stupid, such as when Anglo-Irish wit and literary giant, Oscar Wilde, filed a libel suit against the notoriously pugnacious Marquess of Queensberry, otherwise famous for drawing up the rules of pugilism, for calling him a sodomite, thus allowing the latter to raise, in his own defence, the truth of the accusation (Wilde was buggering the Marquess’ son, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, at the time).    At any rate, such laws have been off the books for decades throughout the Commonwealth and, indeed, Western Civilization as a whole.   The countries which have laws against homosexuality today, with far more serious enforcement and severer consequences than was true of the former laws here, are countries in the Third World.    I wonder how many of the clergymen who have signed this declaration are, unlike myself, in sympathy with the sort of crackpot radical politics that otherwise objects to Western Civilization assuming its ways are preferable to those of Third World countries and peoples?


Moreover, not only are the alphabet soup crowd not targeted by the law in Canada, it is the other way around, they now benefit from bad laws which beat up on other people for their sake.   Ever since Bill C-16, amending the Canadian Human Rights Act and Section 318 of the Criminal Code to include “gender identity or expression” among prohibited grounds of private discrimination, passed Parliament and became law four years ago, people have been in danger of punitive legal consequences for “misgendering” someone, i.e., calling that person “him” or “her” according to what had been universal usage everywhere in the English-speaking world up unto that point.   This is, as Professor Jordan Peterson pointed out, “compelled speech”, the next stage of Orwellian thought control via language control beyond prohibited speech, taking it from the level of “you can’t say that” to that of “you must say this.”   Among those most in danger of falling prey to this insanely twisted new law are those who accept such Scriptural words as “so God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” by faith, in the way in which those words have been understood throughout the catholic church “everywhere, at all times, and by all”, and who even prior to Bill C-16 had been subject to legal harassment for expressing views consistent with Scripture and tradition on matters affecting the alphabet soup crowd (look up Hugh Owens and Bill Whatcott).   One would think that a successor to the Apostolic office of oversight in a branch of that church, a branch that asserts the high Protestant view of Scriptural authority in the sixth of its Articles of Religion, and which likes to define its catholicity by the Vincentian canon quoted in my last sentence, would regard standing up for such believers, who are targeted by laws in his own country, as a more important and necessary way of standing by the person the world is hurting, than signing political declarations on behalf of people who may be the subjects of unjust persecution elsewhere in the world, but in whose name the persecution of believers is now taking place in this country.  

If I, a mere parishioner and lay theologian, might make a humble suggestion, it would be that if the Right Reverend Woodcroft truly wishes to cultivate the virtue of fortitude by standing by those whom the world is hurting, a most admirable goal indeed, that there are examples closer to home and better suited to the purpose in that they require going against the tide of popular opinion, well-funded and well-organized mass movements, and the power exercised by the corporate media or even, if necessary, the state.   One such example would be to stand up for the unborn, who have had no protection under law in the Dominion since 1988, no party in Parliament seeking to redress this, and who are slaughtered by the thousands in this country in the name of “reproductive rights” each year.   Or, if the bishop really wants to put his fortitude to the test, he might try standing up for those poor students in Strathcona High School in Edmonton, Alberta, who have recently been demonized by their school, the chair of the board of which, a publicity-hound named Trisha Estabrooks got herself into stories on the CBC, CTV, and Global, which are constantly trying to outdo the Winnipeg Free Press as organs of left-wing disinformation, by complaining about how horribly racist and hateful these students apparently are, because they put up an Instagram page quoting Martin Luther King Jr., calling for racial equality, and criticizing their school for having become “increasingly anti-white rather than pro-black”, criticism which has been abundantly justified and proven by the school board’s actions, which included asking the Edmonton Police to investigate.    This would be a particularly appropriate example because in the last couple of years our ecclesiastical leadership has expressed much concern about racism and it would be much better for them to do so by standing against real racism, such as the BIPOC supremacism these kids have been subjected to, rather than the “systemic racism” that they apparently do not realize is merely Marxist coded language for “being white” and thus a racist expression in itself.


Might I also recommend that His Grace add to his Lenten reading list this year, the recent book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity (Bloomsbury, 2019) by Douglas Murray?   The author, who is Associate Editor of The Spectator and, a detail I would not mention other than in the context of a discussion such as this one, a gay man, has many excellent insights into the nature of the “woke” mob that has sprung up out of what until quite recently was considered the lunatic fringe of the academic left and which threatens freedom, traditional justice, order, and civilization itself in the name of a false and obscure “social justice” for various groups identified by their sexual orientation, race, sex, and gender identity, an ideal that has been made deliberately unattainable so that the destructive civil unrest and agitation it towards it might be kept going in perpetuity.


(1)   Even this had more to do with the tendency of police to periodically harass establishments that are in technical violation of some minor law so that they will give them a payoff to be left alone than with general societal prejudice.   Even the 1995 film Stonewall, a kind of combination of musical comedy and historical drama loosely based upon the riots in response to such harassment at the Inn of that name in Greenwich Village that launched the American gay rights movement in 1969, testifies despite itself to the general toothlessness of the laws regarding homosexuality in that day and the  indifference with which they were regarded.   I refer to the scene involving the “sip-in” in which the gay liberation activists went from establishment to establishment, ordering drinks and informing the servers of their orientation – it was against the law to serve alcoholic drinks to homosexuals – but never being met with a refusal until they ended up staging one of their own at the gay bar.    The more general problem of police harassment arises out of the nature of the police.   The state consists of many elements, the best of which is the entirely respectable royal monarchy at the head of the state in Commonwealth realms like Canada, an important but much less respectable and rather sleazy element being the legislative assembly of elected politicians which in Canada we call the House of Commons, and an even more disreputable element being the civil service, consisting mostly of the same kind of arrogant, rent-seeking, pencil-pushing, bossy, technocrats who make up corporate management.   At the very bottom rung of the state in terms of respectability are the police, who are basically low-life thugs, drafted from the criminal element of society, in order that their violence might be turned to the service of law and order rather than against it (see Anthony Burgess’ brilliant illustration of this in A Clockwork Orange).   This is clearly demonstrated in the phenomenon under discussion here, which mimics the “protection racket” activity of the mob.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The True Church is not Electronic

In 1987, Augsburg Publishing House, the publishing arm of the American Lutheran Church which the following year would join with Fortress Press, the publisher of the Lutheran Church in America as part of the merger of the Lutheran bodies into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, published a book entitled Television and Religion: The Shaping of Faith, Values and Culture.   The release of such a book could hardly have been more timely – it went to print just as the various scandals surrounding Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were breaking.   The author of the book was the Reverend William F. Fore, who was the acknowledged expert at the time on the matter of religious broadcasting.    For the next couple of years he was a guest on pretty much every major radio and television talk show discussing the scandal and his book.  Rev. Fore, who passed away last July, was a minister of the United Methodist Church, and served as the Executive Director of the Communications Department of the National Council of Churches in Christ for a quarter of a century, retiring from this position shortly after his aforementioned book came out.   The fifth and sixth chapters of the book address the message and audience respectively of what he called “the electronic church”.    He had already been sounding the alarm about this “electronic church” for over a decade.


Indeed, in August of 1978 Fore gave an address by that very title – “The Electronic Church” – to a meeting of the Seventh Day Adventist Broadcasters Council in Oxnard, California, which was published in that denomination’s Ministry Magazine in its January, 1979 issue.   In that address he noted some interesting statistics.   Gallup had just conducted a survey of the religious views of both the “churched” and the “unchurched” in the United States.   “Surprisingly”, Fore commented, “religious beliefs and practices have undergone remarkably little change during the past 25 years.”   What made these findings surprising was that while beliefs in doctrines like the deity of Jesus Christ and practices such as daily prayer did not appear to be declining among Americans, even among the “unchurched”, the self-evaluated importance of organized religion in their lives was.   Fore suggested that the incongruity between these two things could be, at least partly, explained by the growth of religious broadcasting and that this was cause for concern.   He said:


What worries me is whether this electronic church is in fact pulling people away from the local church.  Is it substituting an anonymous (and therefore undemanding) commitment for the kind of person-to-person involvement and group commitment that is the essence of the local church?


As we shall shortly see, this was a legitimate concern and there is far more cause for alarm on this front today than there was back then.   First, it needs to be noted that there was another, far more obvious, reason why steady belief in such basic Christian truths as the deity of Jesus Christ might coincide with a decline in confidence in organized religion – and a decline in church attendance, for when Fore was speaking and writing about the danger of “the electronic church” we were already several decades into a period of drastic decline in church attendance, one which began shortly after the Second World War and which continues to this day.  


That reason was simply this – that in this same period of time, a great many of the churches had stopped preaching and teaching the basic Christian truths.   For everyone who could still truthfully recite everything in the Apostles’ Creed from “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth” to “The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen”, churches whose ministers taught that Jesus was God’s Son only in the sense that He exemplified the way in which we are all children of God and that He rose again from the dead only in the sense that He lived on in the memory of His disciples, and who similarly explained away everything else in the Creed so as to make its opening “I believe” into an “I don’t believe”, were rapidly losing their appeal.   Nor did they have much of an appeal to anybody else.  Anybody out there who actually wanted to hear a lecture every week about racial and gender equity, recycling and reducing our carbon footprint, and other such trendy codswallop had plenty of opportunity to do so that did not involve getting up early on Sunday morning.   Others have certainly noticed the contribution of this factor to the decline in church attendance and affiliation.   Here in the Dominion of Canada, where the decline had been much larger than in the United States, two Anglican priests, George R. Eves, Two Religions: One Church (1998) and Marney Patterson, Suicide – The Decline and Fall of the Anglican Church of Canada (1999), attempted, to little avail, at least with regards to the upper echelons of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, to warn the Anglican Church of Canada that this kind of liberalism was killing the church.   Others, such as the eminent Canadian sociologist of religion Reginald W. Bibby, have addressed this factor in a more detached manner.    Now, the United Methodist Church and the NCCC were both noted bastions of liberalism.   The late Dr. Thomas C. Oden had been well within the mainstream of the United Methodist Church  prior to his journey back from theological liberalism and political radicalism to “paleo-orthodoxy” through a study of the great theologians of the Christian tradition beginning with the Church Fathers prompted by a challenge from his Drew University colleague, Will Herberg, who had had to make a similar return to the roots of his own Jewish tradition in the Talmud and Midrash after his own break with his early radicalism.  The National Council of Churches in Christ is the American organized expression of ecumenism which, as Joseph Pearce has recently observed, “appears to be the willingness to dilute or delete doctrine in pursuit of a perceived unity among disparate groups of believers (irrespective of what they actually believe)” and thus the opposite of what it originally meant when applied in the early centuries to the General Councils that defined orthodoxy and excluded heresy for the entire church throughout the “whole inhabited world”.    My point in bringing this up is not to cast aspersions on the personal orthodoxy of the late William F. Fore but to show that for someone in his position, unless he wished to make waves, he had strong personal reasons to turn a blind eye to the connection between liberalism and declining church attendance and to tie the latter to religious broadcasters who, whatever else they might be legitimately accused of -  aggressive and dishonest fundraising, the sacrilege of reducing religion to popular entertainment, etc. – were seldom if ever liberals.


All of that having been said, Fore’s concern that for many people “the electronic church” was taking the place of local churches was a legitimate and valid one.   In his address to the Seventh Day Adventists in 1978 he said the following:


Radio and TV – especially TV – tend to produce a substitute for reality that eventually can begin to take the place of reality itself.


He illustrated this point by referring to an article in Broadcasting Magazine that described a television program entitled “Summer Camp” that purported to give kids the “summer camp” experience “without leaving home”, a particularly poignant example as it is difficult to conceive of an experience further removed from that of watching television than summer camp or a greater exercise in missing the point than trying to translate that experience into the television medium.   He went on to say:


My point is that exposure to the media tends to separate us from the world of reality, creating for us, in fact, a new reality…The situation, I predict, is going to get worse.


Before we take a look at just how true that prediction has become, let us consider the contrast he drew between the local and the electronic church.   He said:


[The purveyors of the electronic church] are building huge audiences that bring them fame, wealth, and power, but which in doing so substitute a phantom, a non-people, an electronic church, for the church of real people, with real needs and real gospel to share in the midst of their real lives.


It is no accident that the local church, the koinonia or community of believers, is such a central part of our Christian faith and life.  This is where we find Christ; this is where we confess our sins and find forgiveness and regeneration; this is where we act out our faith and where we shore up one another when we slide back in the faith.


The years since 1978 and now have seen an explosion in the development of electronic communications technology.   Personal computers and cellular phones have become more compact and affordable and therefore ubiquitous and, indeed, have now merged into smart phones that place the internet, which itself has evolved rapidly and exponentially in this period, at one’s fingertips wherever one happens to be.   The “electronic church” has evolved along with these media and in 2021 the “online church” – services viewed over the internet either while they are occurring through livestream or later if, as is usually the case, recordings of the stream remain available – has become a much larger part of it than the services broadcast on radio and television forty years ago.   Indeed, for almost a year now, the “online church” has been the only “church” available throughout most of the world as governments everywhere have used the pretext of the spread of a coronavirus notable more for its novelty than its severity to throw off the shackles of constitutional restraints and protected rights and liberties and conduct an insane social experiment in which they forbade in-person social interaction in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to contain the spread of the virus.   The leaders of the churches have, for the most part, opted to obey man rather than God and support this vile experiment by closing their doors and making services available to their parishioners only via the internet.   Thus, for the last year, the “electronic church” has more fully and completely replaced the real church, than Rev. Fore would have imagined possible in his worst nightmares back in the eighties.  


What is most troubling about this, apart from the whole submitting to godless totalitarianism aspect of it, is that whereas forty years ago, church leaders whether orthodox or liberal, would have largely shared Fore’s concern that for many people the “electronic church” was becoming a substitute for actual churches in which real people meet and worship and fellowship together and would have agreed with him that this was not a good thing, today, the church leaders who are saying “Amen” to the government officials who insist that we must sacrifice the mental and social wellbeing of all members of our communities, and the economic wellbeing of all except the most wealthy, in order to prevent people who are already at the end of their natural lifespans from dying a natural death a very short time earlier than would otherwise be the case, are now developing theological arguments for why the “electronic church” is a real church after all.    While the idea of a spiritual fellowship existing between all believers in different places is neither new nor unsound – this is a part of the meaning of “the communion of the saints” in the Creed – it is a different matter entirely to treat the act of praying and singing along, from your own home, while you watch a service that is taking place elsewhere through your computer screen, as if you and those actually participating in the service were somehow together in some virtual “place” that the internet has generated.   Doing the latter is far closer to living in the kind of artificial “reality” from which in the movies a “red pill” is required in order to escape than it is to the orthodox doctrine of the “communion of the saints”.


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in Russia a year after the Bolsheviks, a murderous gang of criminal revolutionaries, fanatically devoted to building what they believed would be an ideal society based upon collective ownership, materialism, science, and atheism regardless of whatever cost in human lives and suffering had to be paid in order to bring this about, seized control of that country, murdered the Tsar and the rest of the royal family, and began its long, but mercifully unsuccessful, war of extirpation against the Russian Orthodox Church.   His mother raised him, as best she could, in the Orthodox faith, while the Bolshevik state did its worst to indoctrinate him in its ideology.   Ultimately, after Solzhenistyn was arrested while serving in the Red Army in World War II for criticism of Stalin, and sentenced by a secret tribunal of the NKVD to the work camps administered by GULAG, his Orthodox rearing won out, and in his writings he became a fierce critic of the oppression of the Soviet system.   While his writings were initially well-received in his home country while Khrushchev was repudiating the legacy of Stalin, when he turned his pen against the Communist system and underlying ideology as a whole, he became persona non grata, and soon his writings had to be published by samizdat in Russian, or smuggled out and published in translation in the West where they helped remove the blinders from the eyes of many who still thought of the Soviet experiment in romantic, idealistic, terms.   Eventually, the Soviet regime tired of him and on the twelfth of February, 1974, he was arrested again and sent into exile.


On the day of his arrest he released a notable essay, advising that in the face of a violent, oppressive, totalitarian ideology such as that which then ruled in Russia, the least that people could do was refuse to participate in the lies by which the totalitarian ideology of the state covered its violence.


“And this is the way”, Solzhenitsyn wrote, “to break out of the imaginary encirclement of our inertness, the easiest way for us and the most devastating for the lies.   For when people renounce lies, lies simply cease to exist”.


The title of Solzhenitsyn’s essay, “Live not by Lies”, was borrowed last year by Rod Dreher, for a book advising Christians about how to live in the face of a new soft totalitarianism.   While Dreher admirably strained out many of the totalitarian gnats of “woke” ideology, he swallowed in its entirety the camel of masks and lockdowns and public health orders.


We can and must do better than that.


Sadly, I expect that very few of our church leaders will be willing to show the same faith and obedience to God rather than man as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, who was arrested by the RCMP last week for holding regular church services and remains in police custody as of the time of this writing, or Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, who held a service last weekend in solidarity with Pastor Coates.   While Coates’ arrest demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that I have been right in everything I have been saying since last March about how these public health orders are the latest manifestation of the anti-Christian, anti-freedom, atheistic and materialistic, spirit of Communist oppression and are utterly out of place in a Commonwealth Realm in which the basic rights and freedoms these orders treat as inconsequential are supposed to be the guaranteed Common Law property of citizens as Her Majesty's free subjects, this is not really my point here.   If most Christian leaders can’t find the balls to do what Pastors Coates and Stephens have done, a rather predictable consequence of the widespread ordination of women due to a previous generation’s departure from the clear teachings of the Scriptures and church tradition on that subject, then the least they can do, to borrow Solzhenitsyn’s language, is to refuse to participate in the lies covering up the totalitarian violence and oppression of the lockdown measures.   Specifically, they can reject the lie that the “electronic church” of today is somehow different and better than the “electronic church” of forty years ago, because it is online rather than on television.   This lie rests upon the underlying notion that the internet is an actual space where people can really meet and actively participate in something together rather than the mere passive viewing which is all that the voyeurism of television makes available.   I am inclined to say that this notion, too, is a lie, although it contains the element of truth that the internet has an interactional element that was not there in television.   Along with that element of truth, however, it contains the assumption that this is an improvement rather than something that moves us closer to the dystopia of the Matrix.   That assumption, I would say, is at the very least, highly dubious. 


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

From Hopelessness to Hope: A Reflection on Ash Wednesday

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888.   He was raised in the Unitarian sect in which his grandfather, a member of the wealthy and elite Eliot family of New England, had been a minister.   After receiving a classical education in elite private academies as a boy he went on to study literature at Harvard and philosophy at the Sorbonne before winning a scholarship to Merton College in Oxford at the outbreak of the First World War.  Oxford failed to win a place in his heart, however, and he quickly relocated to London, where he was taken under the wing of fellow American ex-patriot Ezra Pound.


Ezra Loomis Pound had met Eliot when the latter was still a student at Oxford.  Conrad Aikin, whom Eliot had known at Harvard, had arranged for them to meet so that Eliot could show Pound, who had just married Dorothy Shakespear, his “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.   Pound was impressed, and the following year, on his recommendation, Harriet Monroe published the poem in Poetry.   It was Eliot’s first poem to be published outside of academe.    Pound and Eliot struck up an instant friendship and the former, whose reputation as a poet had already been established, would continue to help further Eliot’s literary career, most notably as editor of “The Waste Land”, published in Eliot’s own The Criterion in 1922.


There were a number of similarities between the two poets that undoubtedly strengthened and sealed their friendship in these early years.   Both had been born and raised in the United States and had fled across the Atlantic to the Old World.   Both had been steeped in the literature and philosophy of ancient and medieval civilization and had come, as a consequence, to reject the attitude of progressive optimism towards the future of Western civilization that was prevalent and ubiquitous in their formative years.   Their trans-oceanic flight can be seen as a symbolic representation of this rejection.  They preferred to live in what they saw as the decay and ruin of the older civilization in its last days – the “waste land” of Eliot’s poem – than in the epicentre of the optimistic liberalism that was ushering in a new barbarism.   Three years after the publication of “The Waste Land”, Eliot returned to this vision of Western Civilization as a ruined wasteland in “The Hollow Men”.   The first stanza of this poem depicts the inhabitants of the wasteland as stuffed strawmen, like the effigies burned on Guy Fawkes Day, who are beyond the envy even of those inhabiting the shadowy realms of death, through which Eliot takes his readers in Dantesque fashion in the four remaining stanzas, until they arrive on the beach of the “tumid river”  (presumably Styx), where the denizens of this dismal place dance around a “prickly pear” singing a dark parody of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” that concludes with “This is the way the world ends/not with a bang but a whimper”, undoubtedly the best known words of the poet except for those set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.


It was shortly after the publication of “The Hollow Men” that Eliot took the step that would take him and Pound down different paths from their common beginnings.   The following year, on a trip to Rome, he fell to his knees in front of Michelangelo’s Pieta, much to the discomfort of his kin who were travelling with him.   This was out of aesthetic admiration but it signaled a spiritual awakening.    In 1927, to the horror of Virginia Woolf who declared him “dead to us all from this day forward”, he converted to orthodox Christianity, and was baptized into the Church of England (Unitarianism, as its name indicates, rejects the Trinity, and so this was an exception to the general rule of the Anglican Church accepting the validity of the baptism of other denominations) and confirmed the following day.   Later that year he became a citizen of the United Kingdom.   Having first rejected the false optimism of liberal progress which had made a wasteland out of Western civilization, he had now turned his back on the hopelessness and despair of his earlier poems by embracing the faith that liberalism had rejected.   Pound, the restless pagan, was for whatever reasons, unable lay anchor on such rock himself, and consequently found himself adrift in dangerous waters.


A couple of months after his baptism, T. S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” was published as part of the Ariel Poems, the first of his poems to be written from his new perspective of faith.   Three years later he would publish a much longer poem expressing the experience of his conversion.    He gave that poem the title “Ash Wednesday” from the day on which the penitential period of Lent begins.


The first of the poem’s six sections begins with a return to the sense of hopelessness from “The Waste Land” and “The Hollow Men” in the words:


Because I do not hope to turn again

Because I do not hope

Because I do not hope to turn.


The final section begins by repeating these lines with the word “although” substituted for “because” and concludes with the prayer “And let my cry come unto thee” taken from the first line of the 102nd Psalm.


From the opening expression of despair to the concluding expression of faith we have the poet’s journey from the former to the latter expressed in his own familiar manner of metaphor and allusion.    I have no intention of providing an extended commentary here, but the following is worthy of noting.


In the opening lines, which paraphrase the title line of Guido Cavalcanti’s “Per ch’io non spero” we can see Ezra Pound’s influence again.   Cavalcanti was a favourite of Pound’s.   Almost twenty years before “Ash Wednesday” was published, Pound had published a translation of the Florentine poet’s works.  In the period in which Eliot wrote and published “Ash Wednesday” Pound was working on the section of his Cantos that included his translation of Cavalcanti’s magnus opus “Donna me prega”, although this was not published until four years after “Ash Wednesday”.   “Per ch’io non spero” was written in the last year of Cavalcanti’s life, during his brief exile in Sarzana.   The line which Eliot borrowed had originally expressed Cavalcanti’s despair of ever seeing his native city again – Eliot changed the original’s “return” to “turn” to fit the context of his own poem – thus laying the foundation for the poem as a whole being charged with the task of going where he could not, back to his Lady, to speak to her as his messenger.


Eliot began the second section of his poem by addressing a Lady.   This very briefly creates the impression that he was continuing the allusion to Cavalcanti, but this impression quickly disappears as the Lady is spoken of by his bleached bones – he presents himself as having been eaten by leopards with God pronouncing over his bones the question from the Book of Ezekiel “shall these bones live” – in intercessory tones.   This would seem to suggest a reference to the Blessed Virgin – especially since the first section had ended with the petition “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” from the Sancte Maria – except that it is stated of her that “She honours the Virgin in meditation” and thus must be somebody other than Mary.   There is no mystery, however, as to who this is, because it is clear that Eliot has switched allusions from Cavalcanti to his best friend – Dante Alighieri.  This is exactly the way Beatrice is depicted in Divina Commedia – as the faithful member of Mary’s retinue who sends Virgil to rescue Dante from the beasts at the beginning of the Inferno and guide him through hell and purgatory, before she takes over as his guide at the end of the Purgatorio and throughout the Paradiso.   Eliot’s previous long poems had been full of allusions to Dante.   Having passed through his own Inferno and Purgatorio in “The Waste Land” and “The Hollow Men” he had finally arrived at his Paradiso in “Ash Wednesday”.


Perhaps there is also a message to his friend Ezra Pound implied here, a message to the effect that while the latter was still restlessly following his pagan star Cavalcanti, he had finally found peace in the faith of his Christian guide Dante.  


Today is Ash Wednesday on the liturgical calendar of Western Christianity and on this particular Ash Wednesday, more than ever before we need to follow T. S. Eliot on the path from “Because I do not hope” to “let my cry come unto thee”.   It has been almost a year since our rights, freedoms, and social lives were stolen from us by politicians, bureaucrats, and the medical profession who are clearly determined to keep these from us for as long as they possibly can, which, given the history of how long Communist oppression lasted in the Soviet Union, could be a very long time indeed.   We must not let this become grounds for hopelessness and despair for these involve the denial of faith that God is a gracious and merciful God Who hears our prayer.


It is customary on Ash Wednesday to begin a fast in which we give something up for the forty days (excluding Sundays) of Lent.  In recent years some of our ecclesiastical leaders have recommended that we consider “social media fasts” for this period.   As good of a suggestion as this would ordinarily be, it hardly seems advisable this year in which social media  is the only thing resembling contact, fake though it be, that the tyrannical and totalitarian politicians and doctors allow us to have with our friends and extended family.   Indeed, since so much has been forcibly taken from us over the last year, I would suggest that if we give anything up today, it be our voluntary acquiescence in the theft of our own and our neighbours’ rights, freedoms, and social lives.   If we were all to give up masks, social distancing, and all of these other stupid and idiotic rules and restrictions and regulations, that would be a start to bringing the light of hope back into this dark world.  






Friday, February 5, 2021

From Dubya to Dhaliwal

 I am a Tory rather than a true libertarian.   Actual libertarians would say that government is either a necessary evil or an unnecessary one, depending upon whether the libertarian is one who believes in the “nightwatchman state” model or one who believes that the state is a criminal plot against the rights of the individual.   I hold to the classical view that laws are necessary and that government is a good thing in the sense that it is an institution that was established and exists to serve the good of the public.   The degree to which any specific government in any specific time and place can be said to be either good or bad depends upon the degree to which it actually accomplishes this purpose.   Having said all of that, I am the kind of Tory who, like the novelist Evelyn Waugh and his son Auberon, has a great deal of sympathy for the minimal government type of libertarian.   As the elder Waugh once put it “I believe in government; That men cannot live together without rules but that they should be kept at the bare minimum of safety.”     It is from this perspective that I make the following observations. 


Whenever government declares “war” against something other than another country, whether it be drugs, crime, poverty, whatever, it is for the purpose of expanding its own powers.    This expansion of government is never necessary and it always involves the diminishing of the civil rights and freedoms of the governed.   It is very difficult to contract the powers of government after they have been expanded and to restore rights and freedoms after they have been diminished.   Any time, therefore, that the government starts talking about wars against abstract enemies we should take this as an alarm bell telling us to stand up for our rights and liberties before we lose them.


You are perhaps thinking at this point that I am about to apply this to the militaristic language our governments have been using while announcing totalitarian restrictions as their response to the spread of the bat flu.   While that is certainly a valid application, I will let you make it for yourselves.   Instead, I wish to consider another example from twenty years ago, the ramifications of which are now becoming most evident.


On September 11, 2001, al-Qaida, an Islamic terrorist organization that had evolved out of the CIA-trained mujahideen that the United States had employed against the Soviet Union following the latter’s invasion of Afghanistan decades earlier, attacked its former sponsor by hijacking planes and flying them into the towers that symbolized American and international commerce in Lower Manhattan.   The American President at the time, George W. Bush, shortly thereafter declared a “Global War on Terror” and gave the rest of the world an ultimatum to either stand with the United States in this battle or be counted on the side of the enemy.


By declaring war on the abstraction of terrorism in general rather than merely the specific, concrete, terrorist organization al-Qaida that had attacked America, Bush signaled that he had a far more ambitious project than merely settling the score and punishing the perpetrators of 9/11.   While terrorism is notoriously difficult to define due to a lack of consensus with regards to certain of the particulars there is a general understanding that it occupies the space where the kind of violence that law enforcement deals with and the kind that requires a military response overlap each other.   This makes it a particularly bad choice for an enemy in an abstract war.   In addition to the problem common to all wars against abstract enemies, that they can never be won and brought to a decisive end because abstract enemies cannot surrender or be toppled or killed, a war against terrorism is an invitation to merge the law enforcement and military functions of government in a way that threatens the privacy, rights, and freedoms of the governed.


This is precisely what happened with the Bush administration’s War on Terror.    In the first month of the War on Terror the Office of Homeland Security was established which about a year later would be expanded into the Department of Homeland Security, a creepy body, like something out of a totalitarian dystopia, in which the line between law enforcement and the military is all but eliminated.   In less than two months after 9/11 the Bush administration had drafted and pushed through Congress the draconian Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act, which stripped Americans of anything but nominal constitutional protection of their privacy rights and turned the American republic into an Orwellian surveillance state. 


I knew full well at the time that this was a power grab aimed at expanding the powers of the American government at the expense of the privacy, rights and freedoms of ordinary Americans.   I knew this because this is precisely what the men who were rushing to do this in September of 2001 had been saying about similar efforts on the part of the Clinton administration in the 1990s.


In the spring of 1995 I was finishing my freshman year as a theology student.   At the very end of the semester a terrorist attack in the United States was all over the news.   A truck loaded with a homemade bomb had been detonated outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.   Bill Clinton immediately began pointing to this event as demonstrating the need for the Omnibus Counterterrorism Bill that his Attorney General Janet Reno's Department had drafted and that had been introduced in the US Senate a couple of months earlier by none other than the present occupant of the White House who at the time was Senator for Delaware (Chuck Schumer was the sponsor of the Bill in the House of Representatives).   The bill met with strenuous opposition from civil libertarians of the left and right and consequently it was only a very emaciated version that was signed into law by Bill Clinton on Hitler's birthday the following year.  When, barely a week after 9/11, Bush's Attorney General John Ashcroft had the draft of the PATRIOT Act available - a bill so long that few who voted on it had been able to read the entire thing - this was because he had basically recycled Clinton's Omnibus Counterterrorism Bill, adding a few bells and whistles here and there.   Ashcroft is said to have called up Joe Biden to tell him that it was essentially the same bill that he, that is Biden, had introduced seven years earlier.   Now, although Clinton had failed to get the surveillance state he sought in 1995-1996, he did not let up in his efforts to enhance government powers in the name of fighting terrorism.   Indeed, he brought the matter up with increasing frequency as his many indiscretions began to surface and his administration became enmired in scandal.     Around 1997, for example, he wanted the FBI to be given the power to intercept and read all internet communications.   An excellent article was penned in opposition to this by the said John Ashcroft, who at the time was Senator for Missouri.   The article was entitled "Keep Big Brother's Hands Off the Internet" and included such wise observations as the following:


"The Clinton administration would like the Federal government to have the capability to read any international or domestic computer communications...The proposed policy raises obvious concerns about Americans' privacy...There is a concern that the internet could be used to commit crimes and that advanced encryption could disguise such activity.  However, we do not provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited wiretaps.   Why then, should we grant government the Orwellian capacity to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?...The administrations interest in all e-mail is a wholly unhealthy precedent, especially given this administration's track record on FBI files and IRS snooping.   Every medium by which people communicate can be subject to exploitation by those with illegal intentions.   Nevertheless, this is no reason to hand Big Brother the keys to unlock our e-mail diaries, open our ATM records, read our medical records, or translate our international communications".


Indeed.   It appears that some time between 1997 and 2001 one of the pod people from Don Siegel's 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers had replaced Ashcroft with a look alike who instead of the above sound reasoning espoused rhetoric about how those raising concerns about the PATRIOT Act's impact on civil liberties were aiding and abetting the terrorists.   He was hardly the only one.  The same could be said of a great many of the most prominent figures in American conservatism who had talked like Ashcroft about the Clinton administration's threat to American liberties in the 1990s, only to turn around and support the PATRIOT Act in 2001.   It was at this point that I lost all respect for American conservatives - other than those like Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, and Charley Reese who were manifestly the same people, espousing the same principles, regardless of whether a Clinton or a Bush was in power.



It was a couple of years later, when Bush and Ashcroft were again talking about expanding their powers to fight terrorism – they had drafted the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, nicknamed “PATRIOT II”, but it was never presented to Congress – that the late Sam Francis wrote an article explaining the case against all legislation of the type, in what was the single best response to the annoying “it’s okay when our side does it" attitude among the Bush “conservatives” that I ever read.   He wrote:


But the larger point is not what this administration does or doesn't do with the new powers.

The point is that the powers are far larger than the government of any free people should have and that whatever powers this administration doesn't use could still be used by future ones.


That, of course, is how free peoples typically lose their freedom—not by a dictator like Saddam Hussein suddenly grabbing power in the night and seizing all the library records but by the slow erosion of the habits and mentality that enables freedom to exist at all.


Instilling in citizens the notion that the power to seize library records is something the state needs is an excellent way to assist that erosion.


Most libertarians, of the left or the right, will tell you how we have been eroding those habits and that mentality for several decades now.  – Samuel Francis, “Bush Writing Last Chapters in Story of American Liberty”, September 25, 2003, Creators Syndicate.


The truth of Sam Francis' words is now glaringly obvious.   


The White House is now occupied by the decrepit swamp troll who had introduced the first draft of what would eventually become the PATRIOT Act back in 1995 and he is calling for even more anti-terrorism legislation.   He has also openly turned the War on Terror against those whom the Clinton administration had in mind when they attempted, unsuccessfully, to launch their own War on Terror that year - American citizens who stand up for their rights and freedoms, especially Christians who are serious about their faith, white people who object to being vilified for the colour of their skin and turned into scapegoats, and gun owners.   


The Department of Homeland Security has issued a bulletin that implies that those who are unsatisfied that the outcome of last year's election was legitimate, are opposed to the lockdown measures that trample all over their rights and freedoms ("frustrated with the exercise of government authority" is how the memo words this), or both, are potential violent threats to the United States.    A government that regards around half of the people it governs as threats is no longer a constitutional government that respects limits on its own power for the protection of its citizens and their rights and freedoms.  It is more like a government that fears and has declared war on its own people.   The progressive media that during the last administration defended its monolithically hyper-adversarial stance with slogans like "democracy dies in darkness" has been calling for Republican senators such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and in some cases the entire Republican Party to be designated "domestic terrorists".  The United States is a two-party country.   If you criminalize one of the two parties you are left, of course, with a one-party state.   Otherwise known as a totalitarian dictatorship.   The kind of state that the United States, the capital city of which is now under military occupation by its own army, is giving every impression of becoming.


From up north in the Dominion of Canada it is appalling to watch our southern neighbour turn itself into the world's largest banana republic, both because of what it means for our American friends and because bad ideas and trends down there have a nasty habit of migrating up here.


Think back to 2001 once again.   Our Prime Minister at the time was Jean Chretien, who was in my opinion a creepy, sleazy, low-life scumbag, to list only his better qualities. While Bush, Ashcroft, et al, were making a big noise about the PATRIOT Act and all the other things they were going to do in fighting their War on Terror, Chretien, relatively quietly had Anne McLellan introduce Bill C-36, an anti-terrorism bill of his own into Parliament.  It quickly passed the House and Senate and received Royal Assent in December of that year.   It consisted of amendments to several different pieces of existing legislation, such as the Criminal Code and the Official Secrets Act.   Some of its provisions, at the suggestion of Bill Blaikie who at the time was the Member representing Winnipeg-Transcona in the House of Commons, were given sunset clauses which caused them to automatically expire in five years. Other provisions remain to this day.      


I will provide an illustration of how this led to the shameful abuse of government power twenty years ago before returning to the present.


One the pieces of legislation amended was the Canadian Security Intelligence Services Act, which created CSIS in 1984.   The amendment replaced "threats to the security of Canada" with the much broader wording "activities within or related to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective within Canada or a foreign state".   CSIS, when it took over the RCMP's intelligence functions, also took over the issuing of security certificates, a provision of the 1978 Immigration Act which allowed for those who were not Canadian citizens to be declared a threat to national security and deported in a streamlined manner.


In December of 2001, just as Bill C-36 was going into effect, American immigration officials arrested Ernst Zündel, who had left Canada in 2000 vowing never to return, rather understandably as he had on three separate occasions been persecuted by our government for his unpopular political-historical views.  He had married an American citizen, the Russian-German Mennonite novelist Ingrid Rimland and, had he been anybody else, would have been on track for American citizenship himself.    Interestingly enough, in February of that year the men’s magazine Esquire had published an essay by journalist and war correspondent John Sack in which Zündel featured   The essay was entitled “Inside the Bunker” and recounted the writer’s experiences at the previous year’s conference of the Institute for Historical Review where he met holocaust revisionists such as Zündel.   The essay, which was later selected for inclusion in the anthology, The Best American Essays 2002, edited by Stephen Jay Gould, was more-or-less the opposite of every other article which had ever appeared about holocaust revisionists in the mainstream press.  Sack treated them respectfully, pointed out a few places where they were demonstrably right, and gave reasons for rejecting their conclusions that were based on evidence rather than abuse, for he presented them all in general, and Zündel in particular, in a sympathetic light as basically ordinary people, who were more hated than guilty of hatred and whose views arose defensively, in response to post-World War II German bashing, rather than out of anti-Semitic bigotry.  Evidently, the essay had no impact on the American and Canadian authorities.   The Americans charged him with overstaying his visa and sent him back to us.   CSIS issued a security certificate against Zündel, which it would not have been able to do prior to Chretien’s anti-terrorism bill becoming law because he was by no means a threat to the security of Canada having been a peaceful and non-violent man for all of the decades he had lived here.   Under the Anti-terrorism Act, however, they were able to stretch the very flexible new wording of their mandate to include him on the basis of people he had associated with.


He was detained and held in solitary confinement in a tiny cell for over a year while he was tried in his absence before a prejudiced judge on the grounds of evidence to which neither he nor his lawyer, Doug Christie, were given full access, and ultimately was deported to Germany where he was arrested over things he said or written in North America, charged, and sentenced to five years in prison.


To summarize, the greater flexibility that had been given to our “intelligence” agency on the grounds that it was needed to protect our country from the threat of terrorist violence was used pretty much immediately after it had passed into law, to once again persecute a man whom our government had been persecuting for his political-historical opinions since 1984, this time denying him the protection of due process that had been available to him previously and which had ultimately prevailed in those cases when the Supreme Court struck the laws under which he had been convicted down.


This was a most disgraceful episode and one that clearly demonstrates that governments that seek to expand their own powers and flexibility in order to combat foes like “terrorism” cannot be trusted to confine the use of those powers to that purpose.


Parliament did take greater precautions than the US Congress in passing the Anti-terrorism Act.   I have already mentioned that certain provisions came with sunset clauses that would cause them to expire in five years unless the House and the Senate agreed to an extension.   The Act also required that the House and Senate appoint committees to conduct a comprehensive review of the Act within its first three years, which would be a necessary preliminary step towards any extension.   While a short extension was agreed upon after the first review, ultimately these provisions were allowed to expire in 2007.   By this time Stephen Harper had become Prime Minister, but the expiration of the provisions should not be attributed to any great concern for the privacy, rights, freedoms, and due process of Canadians on his part.   In his final year as Prime Minister he introduced a new Anti-terrorism Act, Bill C-51, which was more like the USA PATRIOT Act than Chretien’s Anti-terrorism Act had been, and which greatly expanded the powers and mandate of CSIS.   Readers might recall that this loathsome piece of legislation was the reason I vowed never to vote for the Conservatives again as long as Stephen Harper led the party.   The Conservatives were defeated in the election that fall, which I would like to think was in retaliation to Bill C-51, except that they were replaced in government by the only party in Parliament that had supported them in passing it.


Now let us return to the present.   One of the provisions of Chretien’s Anti-terrorism Act that remains in effect was the creation of a list of groups officially designated as terrorists.   It is odd, actually, that this was allowed to stand, because it is one of the worst provisions in the Act.   It essentially functions like a decree of outlaw, depersoning everyone in the groups placed on the list, stripping them of all constitutional protections.


One might think that the New Democrat Party, Canada’s officially socialist party (as opposed to all the unofficial ones), with its long history of human rights rhetoric, would have a problem with this.   Back in 2015, when they were led by Thomas Mulcair, they were on the right side, the opposing side, of the Bill C-51 debate.   In 2021, however, they are led by Jagmeet Singh.   One might think that Singh, considering his open support for the cause of separating Punjab from India and Pakistan and turning it into the Sikh state of Khalistan, a cause that has frequently been supported by acts of terrorism, including one of the most notorious – if not the most notorious – to take place on, well, not on Canadian soil, but in Canadian airspace, the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985, would have even more cause than other NDPers to oppose the official terror list.   At the very least one would expect him not to be throwing stones from within this particular glass house.   One would be very, very, wrong in all of this.


Not long after a number of unarmed and oddly dressed supporters of Donald the Orange temporarily delayed the Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote by entering the Capitol in Washington DC causing everyone to break out into histrionics screaming “coup” “insurgency” and the like, Singh tweeted that the event was an “act of domestic terrorism” and stated that “the Proud Boys helped execute it”, “Their founder is Canadian”, “They operate in Canada, right now” and that he was “calling for them to be designated as a terrorist organization, immediately”.


What is this “Proud Boys” that Singh thinks deserve the terrorist designation more than the mass murderers of Hindus?


It is not, as its title would seem to suggest, an organization devoted to advancing the alphabet soup cause.   It is a group that has attained notoriety over the last five years mostly for its confrontations and clashes with antifa.   Antifa are those groups of masked thugs that go to events organized by right-of-centre groups and lectures featuring speakers with views that leftists believe ought not to be heard and try to disrupt and shut down these events and lectures through intimidation and bullying.  I don’t know if this was the original intent when the Proud Boys was founded but it quickly gained a reputation as a group that was eager and willing to fight back.


The media, which has tacitly and sometimes explicitly, supported antifa for years, has attached all sorts of labels to the Proud Boys that seem to completely disregard the group’s account of itself.   It is frequently called “white nationalist”, for example, despite the fact that it has always been multiracial, that its founder, the Canadian born “godfather of hipsterdom” and co-founder of Vice magazine, Gavin McInnes, is a civil nationalist who explicitly rejected racial nationalism, and its current leader, the one who has been charged with regards to the incident on Capitol Hill, is an Afro-Cuban.   McInnes described the group as “Western Chauvinist” but he explained this quite clearly in terms of the values of Western Civilization, which anyone from any race can adhere to and which, in an irony totally lost on his progressive critics, are entirely liberal – in the sense of classical liberal – values.  


Since the facts obviously conflict with the claim that the Proud Boys are white nationalists, why do the media and the self-appointed anti-hate watchdog groups continue to so designate them?


Obviously it is because they are not using the term to convey any meaningful information about who and what the group is but as a weapon to demonize, discredit, and destroy it.


The exact same thing can be said about Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal’s call to designate the group a “terrorist organization”.   There is little if anything in the facts that would support this designation in any meaning-conveying sense.   The violence perpetrated by antifa which exists solely for the purpose of using violence or the threat of violence to suppress opinions with which the left disagrees and silence those who hold such opinions far more closely fits the meaning of the word terrorism than pushing or punching back against said violence, whatever else one might think about this sort of responding in kind.   The designation is not intended to be meaningful, it is intended to destroy a group that Singh opposes for political reasons.


This is a terrible misuse of a law that seems like it was written to be terribly misused.


Singh followed up on his tweet by raising the matter in Parliament and bringing it to a vote.   The House unanimously voted for a motion recommending that the government add the Proud Boys to the terrorist list.   There was not a single dissenting vote.   Anybody in the Conservative Party who might have thought that antifa and BLM deserved to be on that list much more than the Proud Boys kept that thought to himself.   Anybody in the NDP or Green parties who might have objected to the terrorist list even existing on the grounds that it is a threat to human rights, kept that thought to himself.   This unanimous vote to declare the group a terrorist organization for entirely political reasons, depersoning its members and stripping them of their constitutional protections, speaks extremely poorly about the politicians we have sent to Parliament, and bodes very ill for our country’s future.


The motion in Parliament had no binding force on the government.   Bill Blair, the ex-cop who is Public Safety Minister – a title from the French Reign of Terror which ought not to exist in a free Commonwealth realm, back to Solicitor General, please – told the CBC that the decision would be based on “intelligence and evidence collected by our national security agencies” and that “Terrorist designations are not political exercises”.     On February 3rd he declared that the Proud Boys, along with a bunch of obscure groups that few have ever heard of before, had been added to the list.    


Jagmeet Singh was elated, although it was reiterated on the occasion that his motion was not a motivating factor in the decision (yeah right), and he called upon the government to go even further in eliminating groups that disagree with him.  He was quoted by the CBC as saying:


We need to build a country where everyone feels like they belong. Those hateful groups have no place in our country.


Clearly all anti-terrorism legislation needs to be repealed immediately.   Anything that gives such a man, who is so completely stupid that he cannot see the glaring contradiction between these two sentences, this kind of power to destroy those he doesn’t like is a far greater threat to our country than terrorism itself.