Monday, August 3, 2009

The breezes are beginning to blow the other way

Sometimes it is hard to spot differences between Americans and Canadians, but sometimes not so much.

In the United States something called “the race card” is often played to settle an argument before anybody can dissect the real issue too closely. We saw it happen when Johnny Cochran played it in the O.J. Simpson murder trial to discredit a police officer’s testimony. A more recent example involved Professor Gates in Cambridge, Mass., screaming both race discrimination and privilege at the same time as he was being hauled off by a pissed-off policeman.

In fact, under President Obama, the race card seems to have risen to new heights, but that is for another posting.

In Canada, it does not have the same resonance. What plays well here, however, is “the victim card”. We seem to be a society obsessed with finding victims, and usually victims in a collective identity rather than an individual one. If you are aboriginal, a Jew, a Muslim, a black, a Hindu, a gay, a woman, handicapped, homeless, etc., you will at one time or another been identified as a victim because of that status. Naturally, following such identification are the suggested public policy solutions to either sustain your victimhood (the homeless) or to rectify it (gays).

Clever political operatives always know how and when to play the victim card to their advantage.

In an earlier posting, June 23, I cautioned Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn about the danger of playing into Jennifer Lynch’s public relations campaign to portray herself and her Canadian Human Rights agency as the victims of the likes of Messrs. Steyn and Levant:

My suggestion to Levant and Steyn is to cool the sophomoric name-calling you regularly employ. No more “Commissar Lynch” or “Queen of the censors.” This only plays to her position that you folks are unreasonable and “unbalanced”, and that she is the real victim.

And stop attacking her about her spending habits and making her out to be a ninny. She has both inertia and an uninformed parliament on her side, and even if they are informed, there are enough of the bleeding-heart liberals to tip the balance to keep CHRC exactly as it is, or, worse make it bigger and more powerful. It happened in the bastion of conservatism, Alberta, and it could happen in Ottawa.

You keep up the personal attacks and you may be, as they say, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Since neither one obviously reads my utterings, or if they do, simply dismiss them because I am not one of the fully-fledged members of their cheerleading squad, they continued, bull-in-china shop fashion, to personally attack Ms. Lynch.

Well, according to this posting by Levant, the breezes are beginning to blow the other way. A former free speech supporter of Levant’s, an influential westerner, and, importantly, according to Levant, one of the card-carrying liberal left he waxed on about getting onside, Janet Keeping, has broken ranks and has attacked Levant for his personal broadsides against Lynch.

What does Levant do? Of course, he now attacks the credibility of his attacker, accusing her of that new philosophical no-no, “false moral relevance.”

Keeping’s column may open the doors to other journalists, editors and other opinion shapers who have to date held their noses by siding with obnoxious Levant on free speech. If Keeping has the balls to break ranks to defend the victim Lynch, how can others be so crass as to not rise to the occasion and balance out the personal attacks?

And, if they do, it will not be possible for politicians to safely dismantle the CHRC.


Anonymous said...

I didn't like Mr. Levant's description of Ms. Lynch as looking "haggard"--that was needlessly personal--however, it's hardly worth making a big deal of. Much more serious was his charge of deception. He called her a liar. And then, true to his character, he documented just how she has indeed repeatedly been a liar. If the chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission is a liar, then what is she doing judging thought crimes?

Speaking of victims--there is one class of victims that gets very little attention. They are fetal human beings, the unborn babies, that are killed at the rate of one hundred thousand every year. Sure, there are also many natural abortions--but nobody deliberately kills those babies.

Ted S. said...

Lynch is not a victim; she is a perpetrator. Lynch has the power of the state; Levant does not.

Do we agree on that much?

If not, then we have nothing to discuss. If we do agree, though, then we should also agree that Levant's options are to let Lynch (falsely) play a victim, or to tell the truth and deny Lynch her sought after victimhood. It is hard to see why the latter option, which Levant chose, is the wrong one.

Sholto Douglas said...

Very well said. I have for some time been dismayed by the visceral, emotive language used by certain rightist bloggers like Ezra, Jay Currie and (to a lesser extent) Mark Steyn – people who otherwise express perfectly rational views.
Ours is fundamentally a less sexy position than that espoused by the chatteroids. Our only advantages are common sense and hard facts. But it is hard to reconcile expressions such as “damned liar” and “the coward Lynch” with cold reason.
Guys, please leave the emotion to the other side.

Navigator said...

Ted S. I am very much on board for dismantling HRCs with respect to the free speech mandate, if you had strolled through my earlier posts you would see that. And I don't disagree that Messrs. Levant and Steyn should meet Ms. Lynch's dissimulations head on. It is the tone of the attack that bothers me, now that she has staked out her claim to the victimhood, given the Canadian penchat for siding with the victim.

If Ms. Lynch says something that is not true, then it is far better to attack her for being incompetent and not knowing what her own organization is doing. Nothing hits a bureaucrat below the belt like an accusation of incompetence. But lay off the name calling, because it reflects as much on the name-caller as much as on the name-callee.

I hope that clarifies my position for you.

Ted S. said...


Thanks for your reply. We seem to agree that Levant is right to deny Lynch's victimhood. We presumably also agree that Lynch lied. So it seems reasonable for Levant to point out that Lynch is in fact a liar.

I know we all are used to leftists like Al Franken throwing around the term "liar" as just another arbitrary epithet of no concrete meaning, so perhaps we can be forgiven for supposing that "liar" is just a form of "name calling", but when someone like Levant says "liar" he uses it for the particular meaning of someone who lies, which is undeniably an accurate and relevant description of Lynch.

I seem to recall that Levant has attacked Lynch for being incompetent as well. But defining and proving incompetence is murkier, and penalties are sparser. By contrast, lying is easy to define, clearer to prove and more consequential of penalty. So pointing out her lying--as a matter of fact, not a matter of name-calling--makes sense.

Note that Lynch has (mis-)used state power to harm the lives of many people. That is to say, she has created many actual victims. So nothing against the Canadian penchant for siding with victims. Let's just be sure everyone knows who's really the victim and who's really the perpetrator. Then the penchants of Canadians can be put to good use.

Kathy Shaidle said...

Since you got Johnny Cochran's name wrong so early in your post, I stopped reading.

But I gather you're one of those "let's all play nice" bores. Question: before Levant and Steyn went ballistic, when did you ever criticize the HRCs? Did you even know what they were?

If, like Steyn and Levant, you'd had your life (and your bank account) turned upside down by agents of the state and their belligerent Muslim ingrate allies, I wonder if you could resist taking a few digs at your persecutors?

It's easy to criticize and nitpick from the lofty summit of a largely unread blog. You have no skin in this game. Your lawyerly, pseudo-intellectual "one the one hand, on the other hand" rhetoric is part of what has helped turned Canada, and the Canadian "conservative" blogosphere, into the second rate carnival of mediocrity it is today.

Kathy Shaidle said...

Oh, and Navigator? "Tone"? Nuns complain about "tone." Unless you wear a veil and a giant wooden cross, come up with something less prissy to criticize. It really is unmanly.

Navigator said...

Reply to Shaidle.

Blogs are wonderful outlets for people who like to write stuff, as I do. If somebody wants to read my output, that is icing on the cake. Others I suppose are using their blogs to try to impress the neighbourhood and possibly generate paying job opportunities in the media. I say good luck to them, but I would suggest real content and the expression of your own thoughts if that is what you are trying to achieve, not just being a colourful post office for other people's blogs where the real content lies.

With respect to conservatives, I think it is a big tent that can encompass people like me who prefer some reasoned argument to the shouting, sloganeering and name-calling that you pass off as being a "conservative" viewpoint.

Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass if Levant is justifiably personally peeved. The prize is to get HRCs out of the free speech business. If his personal diatribes are going to win his battles but lose the war then, in the end, what would be the point?

Finally, anybody who takes the time to send a message to a stranger to tell him he has misidentified O. J. Simpson's lawyer and that "caused" her to stop reading (BS), is hardly in a position to accuse somebody else of being prissy.

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