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Harper should have gone further in niqab criticism
Wednesday March 25th, 2015
In 2007 I attended a Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) fundraiser. The keynote speaker was controversial journalist Yvonne Ridley, a British convert to an aggressive form of Islam who is an open advocate for terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. She publicly sympathized with Shamil Basayev, the Chechen mastermind of the 2002 Moscow theatre hostage disaster and the 2004 Beslan school ...
Dolce and Gabbana’s views on parenting are commonplace. There’s no homophobia here
Tuesday March 24th, 2015
In 2011 John Galliano, the “zany British bad boy” of the fashion world, was shamed and shunned by all right-thinking people when, in a recorded drunken rant, he cried, “I love Hitler.” Last week two design celebrities, Domenico Dolce and Stephano Gabbana (D&G), were shamed and shunned after Dolce publicly opined: “You are born to be a mother and a father...
The remarkable Ryan Bellerose, a Zionist aboriginal
Tuesday March 17th, 2015
On Sunday night, Montreal’s Hillel Concordia abruptly cancelled a Monday talk by political activist Ryan Bellerose, founder of Calgary United with Israel (CUWI). It would have been a pro-Israel talk, which nowadays, Jews being so passionately divided on Israel, made certain Hillel constituents volubly unhappy. A pretext for disinviting him was found in what were deemed unacceptably crude satiri...
Universities are teaching students what to think, not how to think
Wednesday March 11th, 2015
Every year at this time I am privileged to appear as a guest lecturer for my friend Adam Daifallah’s course on the history of conservative thought at McGill University. Below are lightly edited excerpts from tonight’s lecture. In his essay, “What are universities for?” philosopher Leszek Kolakowski writes: “The greatest danger is the invasion o...
Only women get help for spousal violence, while men are ignored
Tuesday March 10th, 2015
A condition called hemispacial neglect, also known as hemiagnosia, is a rare phenomenon in the neurological world, characterized by the inability of those afflicted to process and perceive stimuli on one side of their environment. The most striking feature of the condition is that the victim not only fails to see what is in (usually) her left field of vision, but is also unaware of ...
Montreal does right by Richler, at last
Monday March 9th, 2015
Cartographers locate cities on geographical maps. Writers locate cities in our hearts and minds. As “the great shining star of his Canadian literary generation,” in the words of one critic, Mordecai Richler immortalized Montreal’s St. Urbain St in hearts and minds around the world. Immortalization can be a dubious honour. Richler took no prisoners is his fiction&r...
Gay advocate unwittingly encourages idea that children can be taught to be gay
Thursday March 5th, 2015
The headline of a recent Washington Post article was provocative, as it was meant to be: “I’m gay. And I want my kid to be gay too.” Writer, CNN political commentator and ardent feminist Sally Kohn set off a national firestorm of criticism with her admission that she would prefer that her daughter be gay like her than heterosexual, because she thinks being lesbian...
So long to one of Canada’s nastiest protest groups, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
Tuesday March 3rd, 2015
One of Canada’s nastiest protest groups, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QUAIA), officially retired from operation at the end of February. Few tears will be shed at its demise. QUAIA was to Pride Toronto as the cuckoo is to the avian kingdom: a bird distinguished by the strident but meaningless monotony of its call and by the contempt the cuckoo arouses in other birds for its par...
Ontario’s new sex ed curriculum teaches young children too much, too soon
Tuesday February 24th, 2015
In Ecclesiastes it is written, “There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the sun … a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. …” One does not have to be Christian or even religious to appreciate the anger that fuelled objections in the first go-around of the Ontario sex ed debate in 2009, enough to block its launch. It...
Jewish Defence League & Montreal’s chilly welcome
Friday February 20th, 2015
Having established a successful base in Toronto seven years ago, the Jewish Defence League of Canada (JDL) is opening a branch in Montreal, announced at a launch Feb 16 attended by about 180 members of the Jewish community and others. At the launch a certain tension prevailed. Everyone there was well aware that the arrival of the JDL in Montreal had fomented much-publicized hostility to the ...
In defence of the Jewish Defence League
Wednesday February 18th, 2015
Jews are drawn to what is known as galgenhumor – gallows humour – because it fits so perfectly with their history. An example: Two Jews about to be executed by a Nazi firing squad are asked if they have a final request. One says he would love to smoke a last cigarette. His companion quietly admonishes him: “Shush, Moishe. Don’t make trouble!” Ther...
Twitter is the new Colosseum. Few victims survive the onslaught
Tuesday February 17th, 2015
In ancient times, Roman emperors would mount circuses in the Colosseum, featuring the crowd-pleasing spectacle of lions killing Christians. Today we are more civilized: no emperors, Colosseums or lions. Which isn’t to say we’ve lost our taste for mobbing and bloodletting. It’s just that now we have Twitter. Twitter is a digital Colosseum. Activists are the emperors. Viral campaigns are the lion...
Zunera Ishaq does a disservice to women forced to wear the veil
Tuesday February 17th, 2015
Zunera Ishaq, the Pakistani woman who won’t back down on her right to wear the niqab in her citizenship ceremony, is proving to be a feisty spokesperson for her side of the debate. In an interview with the National Post, she has framed herself as someone merely wishing to follow her faith, and depicts the government’s position forbidding face cover during the swearing-in part...
Keep the state out of the killing rooms of the nation
Wednesday February 11th, 2015
Commentary following last Friday’s Supreme Court decision on assisted suicide has filled the pages of this and other Canadian publications. Opinion for and against the ruling has been intelligently debated. But I have yet to see a column that focuses directly on my own concerns, so here is my two cents. I am firmly in the anti-euthanasia camp, as my last two columns have indi...
Rape culture vs. Rape fantasyland
Wednesday February 11th, 2015
I’m so old I can remember when Feb. 14 wasn’t Vagina Day, so named for the play, The Vagina Monologues, productions of which are mounted every Feb. 14 on campuses continent-wide. Vagina Day co-opted “Valentines Day,” a nice occasion when it was customary for a man to give a woman candy or flowers as a token of love. (Nowadays a tradition-oriented but canny u...
No one really wants euthanasia. Suffering people want an end to their pain
Wednesday February 4th, 2015
I return this week to the topic of my last column: Euthanasia, considered until mere decades ago an audacious, immoral notion, has shed its aura of transgression. State endorsement was pioneered in the Netherlands, then taken up by Belgium, Luxembourg and, most recently, Quebec. Assisted suicide, euthanasia with a friendlier face, is legal in the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Montan...
Going all the way on sex education
Friday January 30th, 2015
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced that, as part of its restructured sex education curriculum, schools across the province will start teaching students about the nature of sexual consent and what constitutes a healthy relationship. The aim is to create a “consent culture” in which everyone understands “what is a clear, enthusiastic, affirmative ‘yes&rsqu...
Euthanasia is so accepted that doctors must now justify prolonging a life
Wednesday January 28th, 2015
In 1994, Dutch journalist Gerbert van Loenen’s partner Niek underwent surgery to remove what was thought to be a pea-sized brain tumour. More complicated than predicted, the operation resulted in a brain injury that left Niek permanently disabled, yet still able to enjoy quality of life. Van Loenen willingly reorganized his life to care for Niek at home. But after four years,...
Wasted tax dollars on a values-void novel
Wednesday January 21st, 2015
Every year, as a recipient of the Governor-General’s award for best fiction in children’s literature, a lucky Canadian writer receives a $25,000 cash prize. This year Raziel Reid, creator of pop culture blog Blitz & Shitz on DailyXtra.com, won for his Young Adult novel, When Everything Feels like the Movies. I’ve read the novel. What were they thinking? No, se...
Stop the presses. Women like sex with good-looking guys. Just because
Tuesday January 20th, 2015
Note: Readers incapable of appreciating parody should stop reading now. The University of Ottawa released two landmark studies this week that are likely to shake public perceptions of common human behaviours. In one, based on a survey of 510 Canadian women, researchers discovered that women had casual sex “because it feels good,” because “it’s fun,&rdq...