Ontario NDP: Still Crazy After All These Years

Follies of the Religious “Left”

2019-11-28, minor corrections 2019-11-29

A quick look at how the Ontario NDP has pandered to various religions over the years.

Sommaire en français Un bref aperçu de la pratique du clientélisme religieux par le NPD ontarien au fil des ans.

The Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP), just like other branches of the ostensibly left-of-centre NDP, has always had a pro-religious bias. Back in 1985 under the Conservative government of Bill Davis, and well before the ONDP came to power in that province in 1990, the ONDP fully supported the extension of public funding to the parallel Catholic school system to 100%.

Some two decades later, it was NDPer and former attorney-general Marion Boyd who in December 2004 proposed including Muslim sharia law in arbitration of family law and inheritance. Fortunately, a widely based opposition, including even the French FNLP (Fédération nationale de la libre pensée), succeeded in convincing the Ontario government to reject this idea and, further, to remove recognition of other religious traditions. This prompted the Quebec National Assembly to adopt unanimously, on 26th May 2005, a motion opposing the implementation of Islamic courts in Quebec and in Canada:

« Que l’Assemblée nationale du Québec s’oppose à l’implantation des tribunaux dits islamiques au Québec et au Canada. »

Source

The motion, put forward by then-MNA Fatima Houda-Pepin, only one short sentence in length, does not mention any other province explicitly nor target any specific legislation.

Fast-forward to 2019. English Canada, or what is commonly referred to as RoC (outside Quebec) is rocked by an hysterical and irrational wave of anti-Quebec sentiment, motivated by a wanton misreading of Quebec’s new Bill 21 which (partially) implements secularism in that province. Unsurprisingly, the Ontario NDP has jumped on the bandwagon, even driving it. On 25th November, Andrea Horwath, ONDP MPP and Leader of the Official Opposition, proposed the following rather verbose motion, which was adopted unanimously by the legislature:

Whereas all people who wear religious symbols, including turbans, hijabs, kippahs, crucifixes and other articles of clothing that represent expressions of their faith, are welcome to serve the Ontario public; and

Whereas discrimination based on religion is prohibited by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas Quebec passed legislation, Bill 21, that prohibits the wearing of religious symbols and violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas national civil rights groups including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, B’nai Brith Canada, the World Sikh Organization, the Canadian Bar Association, Amnesty International, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs have all opposed Bill 21; and

Whereas municipalities across Ontario including Mississauga, Brampton, the Peel regional council and Toronto have already passed motions condemning the legislation;

Therefore the Legislative Assembly calls on the government of Ontario to communicate its opposition to Bill 21 by formally requesting the Quebec government immediately repeal Bill 21 and by intervening in any Supreme Court challenge of Bill 21 that may be heard by the courts.

Source

The organization Atheist Freethinkers has already responded to the above motion with a press release entitled “LPA-AFT denounces the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the Ontario legislature’s motion against Quebec Bill 21”. Suffice it to say here that Ms. Horwath’s motion indulges in gross exaggeration and misrepresentation of both the intent and scope of Bill 21, making assertions that have been refuted countless times already, both on this blog and elsewhere. Furthermore, it specifically targets legislation in another province and declares an intention to interfere with that province’s laws by means of a legal challenge. In addition, the motion expresses solidarity with some rather dubious organizations, in particular the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

But it gets worse. In her remarks made before the Ontario legislature in support of her motion, Ms. Horwath made a number of outrageous allegations. For example:

I believe that we in Ontario have to continue to stand up and speak out as Canadians against any form of discrimination, prejudice, racism and intolerance.…

No one should have to choose between their faith and their career. We all need to work together to fight Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and xenophobia wherever it happens and whenever and wherever we see it.

Affirming that Ontario values diversity…

…stand up and call out these kinds of discriminatory pieces of legislation and other acts of discrimination, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism.…

Source

Ms. Horwath’s exaggerated statements vilify Quebec Bill 21, and indirectly the majority of Quebecers who support that very reasonable legislation, by associating it with discrimination and intolerance (Bill 21 is not discriminatory), by repeatedly evoking racism (Bill 21 has nothing to do with race), by using the nonsense term “Islamophobia” (which implies that criticizing a religion must be the result of a phobia, i.e. a mental illness). She and other participants in the debate on the motion also make liberal use of the fashionable buzzword “diversity” which is a form of virtue-signalling, so overused that it has lost much of its meaning. To use that word correctly, Bill 21 is secular legislation, and secularism is, among other things, a method of managing religious diversity, something of which the Ontario MPPs clearly have no understanding, or which they refuse to understand.

It does not stop there. You can, if you can stomach them, read the remarks of another ONDP MPP, Kevin Yarde, which are even more outrageous than those of Horwath. They basically amount to paranoia garnished with industrial quantities of whining about those poor religious victims “subjugate[d]” by “very barbaric” Bill 21.

The reality is that Bill 21 simply insists that State employees in position of authority be religiously neutral — in appearance, not just in their behaviour — while on the job. Why? In order to respect the freedom of conscience (which includes freedom of religion) of users of public services and students in public schools. This is eminently reasonable and helps protect freedoms, not threaten them. As I said in a talk at the Rationalist International conference in Cambridge, UK, last July:

For the State to be independent of religion and to show itself to be free of religious influence, both its physical installations and its human agents must be free of religious symbolism. Displaying a religious symbol on the wall of a State building or allowing a State employee to wear a visible religious symbol while on the job are both clear and obvious violations of religion-State separation. In either case, the religious symbol constitutes at the very least passive endorsement by the State of the religion being symbolized. An anti-religious or atheist symbol would also be unacceptable in both situations and for similar reasons.

Religion is, or should be, a private matter. When a religion practices exhibitionism, there is an obvious political purpose, a purpose which has no place in civic institutions.

When a public servant wears a religious symbol while on the job, they are saying that their religious affiliation is more important than their role as a representative of the State whose mandate is to serve the public. They are saying that their individual freedom of expression takes precedence over the freedom of conscience of the users and students whom they serve. This is backwards.

When the State bans the wearing of religious (or anti-religious) symbols by public servants while on the job, it is saying that it is committed to treating all citizens, all members of the public, equally and fairly, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. The State thus undertakes to respect the freedom of conscience of the users of public services and students in schools.

When a public servant refuses to comply with a ban on the wearing of religious symbols while on the job, they are saying that their religious practice is so fanatical, so fundamentalist, that they cannot even present a neutral facade when it is their duty to do so.

Source

As for the Ontario NDP, they are guilty of abject clientelism. They have completely prostituted themselves to religious apologists, especially the most pious and fundamentalist, whose goal is to maintain and extend the considerable religious privileges which they already enjoy.


Abbreviations used in the above article:

  • MPP = Member of Provincial Parliament
  • NDP = New Democratic Party
    NPD = Nouveau parti démocratique
  • ONDP = Ontario New Democratic Party
  • RoC = Rest of Canada

Next blog: Three Examples of Cultural (Mis)Appropriation

Sometimes Makeup Is Just Makeup

By apologizing, Trudeau merely confirms his fatuousness.

2019-09-20

My observations about the recent controversy surrounding Justin Trudeau’s use of makeup.

Sommaire en français Quelques remarques au sujet de la récente controverse à propos du maquillage utilisé par Justin Trudeau.

Canada’s national bimbo and Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been in hot water recently because of several photos which came to light showing him wearing black or brown makeup. One of the photos shows a young Trudeau as Aladdin, wearing a turban and heavy, dark makeup; another shows him made up to imitate Harry Belafonte for a performance of one of Belafonte’s hit songs. There are a number of observations that can be made about the controversy which has ensued:

  • The intensity of the controversy is outrageous, totally out of proportion to the triviality of the incidents in question.
  • It is nevertheless poetic justice that Trudeau—a darling of the identitarian left—should now be a target of that movement’s ire and condemnation.
  • The controversy is an example of imposing American (i.e. USA) standards outside the USA, showing just how Canada is so overwhelmingly colonized culturally by our neighbours to the south.
  • The whole hullabaloo illustrates, yet again, the damage done by the identitarian, intersectional, regressive pseudo-left—that pretentious and retrograde movement which has almost destroyed progressive politics in several countries and in particular here in Canada—and the necessity of doing what we can to reverse that damage.

Given the history of slavery and extreme anti-black racism in the USA, it is no surprise that blackface is now considered unacceptable in that country.

First of all, it is important to understand what blackface is all about. According to the Wikipedia article on blackface, it is an old theatrical tradition in the USA, involving a non-black person wearing black makeup in order to represent a caricature of a black person. The article goes on to explain that today blackface is “generally considered offensive and disrespectful” in the USA—a fair description, although perhaps understated. Given the history of slavery and extreme anti-black racism in the USA, it is no surprise that blackface is now considered unacceptable in that country.

Dany Laferrière is a Québécois writer, born in Haiti, and member of the Académie française. In a recent comment on the Trudeau photos, he comments that true blackface does indeed involve ridiculing and dehumanising people of black-African origin, a tradition from an era when Afro-Americans were considered to be little more than chattel. Often, the makeup was applied leaving some pale skin around the eyes, making them look menacing, while the lips were often exaggerated, to augment the caricatural effect.

However, that is not the case with the Trudeau photos. The first involved Aladdin, a fictional character from a dream-filled tale taken from Arab literature, nothing to do with Afro-Americans. The second was an imitation of a singer who happened to be black: there is nothing wrong or offensive about such role-playing. To imitate Harry Belafonte, Trudeau donned costume and makeup. Such impersonation might even be considered positive, displaying a desire to be the person one is trying to depict. According to Laferrière—and I agree completely—Trudeau’s behaviour was not racist and there was no need for him to apologize.

It is foolish to interpret every action involving blacks through the distorted lens of the traumatisms of American history.

But Trudeau did apologize, saying that he now sees that what he did was racist. He thus validates the indentitarian left’s toxic obsession with race, seeing racism everywhere (except where it really exists, such as the anti-Québécois ethnic bigotry so blatant among anti-secularists). I don’t know where the Trudeau photos were taken, but it was not in Alabama or Mississippi. It is foolish to interpret every action involving blacks through the distorted lens of the traumatisms of American history. As Laferrière points out, Trudeau’s apology is a matter of partisan politics, an affair of white politicians who have to keep up appearances for electoral and popularity purposes.

Trudeau himself is one of the most avid practitioners of the highly dubious politics of those who are now criticizing his so-called “racism” (or excusing him for behaviour they would condemn mercilessly in any politician they do not like). Trudeau has not been at all shy about using such gratuitious accusations against Quebeckers who disagree with his opposition to secularism, even though that issue has nothing to do with “race.” At least makeup has the possibility of being relevant to the issue of racism, but in this case it is not.

Alas, poor Justin, stung by his own stinger, target of the disapproval of his erstwhile adoring allies. Trudeau is not a racist; he is an airhead. He gets no sympathy from me.


Next blog: Two Questions About Bill 21

There is Nothing Friendly About Hemant Mehta’s Gross Ignorance

2019-08-31 — Updated 2019-09-03

My response to a particularly inept, obnoxious and anti-secular blog by a well known American atheist blogger who opposes Quebec Bill 21.

Sommaire en français Ma réponse à un billet de blogue particulièrement inepte, infect et anti-laïque publié sur le site d’un blogueur américain athée bien connu qui s’oppose à la Loi 21 au Québec.

Hemant Mehta is an American blogger who uses the nickname Friendly Atheist and who claims to support secularism. And yet, in a blog entitled Quebec’s Bill 21, Now a Law, Foolishly Bans Religious Symbols for State Workers, published the day after the adoption of the bill which institutes State secularism in the Canadian province of Quebec, Mehta attacks the legislation for its removal of some religious privileges (which Mehta, like religious bigots who oppose secularism, mislabels as “rights”).

We all know, or should know, that human rights cannot, in general, be absolute. There are always reasonable limits. The rights of one person may conflict with the rights of another. Freedom of expression cannot be infinite because, for example, defamation is unacceptable. Most reasonable people would agree that the rights of a pregnant women—i.e. to health, well-being and survival—have priority over any supposed “right to life” of the foetus she is carrying. The rights of children are limited because they lack the maturity to exercise those rights fully. Furthermore, one right of a person may even conflict with another right of the same person. If a child refuses a life-saving blood transfusion for religious reasons, then the child’s life must take precedence over the child’s freedom of religion, because a dead child has no freedom. Freedom of religion must not be absolute for adults either. If an airline pilot were to leave his or her post during take-off or landing, claiming that it was time for prayer, he or she would be guilty of criminal negligence.

Now consider the case of a classroom in an elementary or secondary school, with one teacher and, say, twenty pupils. Suppose that the teacher wants to wear an ostentatious religious symbol, even while teaching. Here we have yet another case of a conflict between rights, between the freedom of religious expression of the teacher and the freedom of conscience of the pupils, i.e. their right to an educational environment free from religious proselytism, including passive proselytizing using symbols. Which should take precedence? The answer is obvious:

  1. Schools exist in order to educate students, not to employ teachers. Students are the reasons schools exist, so their rights should have precedence.
  2. The students are for more numerous than the teacher. Thus, again, their rights should have precedence.
  3. The students are children or adolescents and are thus highly susceptible to influence. They should not be subjected to unnecessary advertising (which is what religious symbols are).
  4. The teacher’s duty is to impart knowledge, teach skills and serve as a role model. The teacher should remain neutral when dealing with sensitive subjects such as religion.

The obvious solution to the conflict between the teacher’s desire to express their religion even while teaching and the student’s right to a quality educational environment free from propaganda is for the teacher to maintain religious neutrality, including visual neutrality by refraining from wearing obvious religious symbols on the job. To do otherwise would be to grant the teacher a religious privilege incompatible with the rights of students. The teacher regains full rights when off the job.

Quebec’s Bill 21 wisely takes this approach by banning teachers from wearing religious symbols. Unfortunately there are exceptions: there is a grandfather clause for teachers already employed before the Draft Bill was first published. Also, it does not apply to private schools, which nevertheless receive considerable public funding in Quebec. Nevertheless, Bill 21 is a very good step in the right direction. The law also bans religious symbols worn by police, prison guards, prosecutors and judges, and this is also a progressive measure because all of these positions exercise coercive authority, and hence their neutrality, both in deed and in appearance, is very important.

So what does Hemant Mehta have to say about Bill 21 in his June 17th blog?

  • In the very title, Mehta says that the ban is “Foolish” when in fact it is eminently reasonable as explained above.
  • Mehta writes that religious symbols are banned for some users of public services too. This is patently false. For users, only face-coverings are banned.
  • Mehta writes that some religious believers are “required by their faith to wear certain symbols.” This is nonsense. Unless the individual is forced by their family or community to wear such a symbol (in which case banning symbols will help that person to resist unacceptable coercion), then they are not obligated by anything other than their personal choice. Even religious activists who vehemently oppose Bill 21 claim that they wear their symbol by choice. Well then, they can choose to remove it if required to do so for their job.
  • Mehta complains about the law’s invocation of the so-called “notwithstanding clause” to make the legislation less vulnerable to court challenges. That clause is part of the Canadian constitution. It is perfectly legitimate to use it, especially when, despite strong popular support for the legislation, a small but extremely noisy and irrational opposition (whose ideas Mehta himself echoes) threatens to delay or disrupt adoption of the law.
  • Mehta wants to have his cake and eat it too, to call himself secular while allowing religious interference in the State.

  • Mehta hypocritically claims that he “actively supports the separation of religion and politics.” That is false. Mehta wants to have his cake and eat it too, to call himself secular while allowing religious interference in the State. If he would allow a policeman or policewoman, for example, to wear an obvious crucifix or hijab or other religious symbol while on duty, then he is not separating religion from the State. On the contrary, he is allowing the State to endorse the religion being displayed.
  • […]advertising, whether commercial or religious, is not benign, especially where children are targetted.

  • Mehta claims that the wearing of religious symbols in this context is “harmless.” Bullshit. Apparently he has never heard of advertising. Companies spend millions of dollars on it—because it works. Whether to sell a product or simply to normalize a brand (such as the Islamist veil) so that everyone gets lulled into thinking it is perfectly normal, advertising, whether commercial or religious, is not benign, especially where children are targetted.
  • Mehta uses the familiar “religious minorities [are] persecuted” excuse in order to grant impunity to minority religions. This is a standard strategy of the regressive pseudo-left. By doing so, he stigmatizes criticism of these religions and he lumps all adherents of a religion into the same category, which invariably benefits the most pious, fundamentalist and even radical coreligionists. For example, failure to criticize the Islamist program of imposing the veil anywhere and everywhere empowers Islamists, while betraying more moderate, secular Muslims and ex-Muslims. Allowing the hijab to proliferate unabated—or worse, to celebrate it!—sends the message that women who do not wear it, especially Muslim women, are impure and unworthy of respect.
  • Mehta complains that Bill 21 contains provisions which monitor its application, for enforcement purposes. Well of course it does! What good is a law which is left unenforced? What good is a law which may be violated with total impunity?

Basically, what Mehta is saying is that the freedom of religious expression of public servants and teachers is absolute and that the freedom of conscience of users and students is worth shit. He would allow unrestricted religious advertising by public servants and teachers while on the job. He gives total priority to those religious believers who are so fanatical that they insist on wearing their symbol absolutely everywhere, as if it were as essential to them as an internal organ. By doing so, he betrays the vast majority of citizens who have a right to public services and schools without religious interference.

Mehta displays gross ignorance of secularism and a total disregard for the importance of secularism in the French-speaking world. In comparison, the English-speaking world displays a disturbing ineptness with regard to the key concept of separation between religion and State, without which secularism degenerates into a pale caricature of itself.

Mehta is apparently completely oblivious to the role played by the regressive or identitarian pseudo-left in opposing secularism[…]

But perhaps most disturbing at all, Mehta is apparently completely oblivious to the role played by the regressive or identitarian pseudo-left in opposing secularism and in poisoning debates about religion and secularism. That toxic movement affects many countries but is particularly strong in the U.S.A. and Canada. It has been weaponized by political Islam in order to demonize secularism with the goal of destroying it. France is currently a major target. Hemant Mehta falls right into step by repeating that movement’s propaganda against Quebec Bill 21. Mehta’s blog is a typical example of regressive pseudo-leftist discourse.

In conclusion, I have this to say to Hemant Mehta:

My name is David Rand. I am president of an organization named Atheist Freethinkers (AFT) based in Montreal and spokesperson for the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (RPL) which is a coalition of several groups (including feminists, North Africans, AFT and other secularists) working for secularism in Quebec. We supported and continue to support Bill 21, while criticizing its weaknesses (for example, it should apply to the entire public service, not just parts.) I am proud to be part of that coalition. The Québécois people are in the vanguard on the issue of secularism, just as they have been trailblazers for several other social issues.

As for you, Mr. Mehta, you have no excuse for your ignorance. An ordinary person with no particular involvement with these issues may be easily confused by biased media reports. But you are a well known blogger in the atheist and freethinking communities of your country. You have a duty to be better informed. You claim to be a secularist. Yet you throw Quebec secularists, such as us, under the bus. Indeed you throw the Québécois in general under that bus. You also abandon secular Muslims to the Islamist wolves. You side with the fundamentalists and obscurantists who cling to their religious privileges, some of which you are all too happy to let them keep. You have no excuse for your unscrupulous betrayal of secularism in the one place in North America—Quebec—where it has made the most significant progress in recent decades.

At least we know who are friends are not.


Next blog: Sometimes Makeup Is Just Makeup

CFI Canada Rejects Secularism—Again

…and lends its support to religious fanatics

2019-05-07 Last modified: 2019-05-13

Once again, by opposing Quebec’s Draft Bill 21, CFI Canada rejects the very secularism which it claims to espouse. But this time it’s worse: CFIC is now indulging in odious slander copied from secularism’s worst ennemies.

Sommaire en français Sans suprise, CFI Canada exprime son rejet de la laïcité telle que formulée dans le projet de loi 21 au Québec. Mais cette fois, c’est pire, car cette organisation reprend le langage diffamatoire utilisé par les pires ennemis du la laïcité.

The Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFI Canada or CFIC) is an organization which pretends to support secularism, which it even claims as one of its “core areas of focus.” And yet, CFIC opposes secularism in the very place—Quebec—where the most significant progress toward that goal is being made.

We saw this behaviour of CFIC back in 2013 when that organization threw Quebec secularists under the bus by taking a position against the Charter of Secularism proposed by the government of the time. CFIC’s betrayal then was bad enough. But now, in 2019, it has repeated this shameful act in an even worse way.

In an article which was sent out by email and which appears on CFIC’s website, the organization not only fails to support Quebec Draft Bill 21, “An Act respecting the laicity of the State,” it denigrates that proposed legislation using language which is copied directly from anti-secular dogma and inspired by far-right Islamist propaganda.

Although the article never mentions Draft Bill 21 explicitly, it is clearly the target of disapproval. Also, the language of the article suggests the initiation of a debate, but it is obvious that rejection of Bill 21 is the foregone conclusion.

The CFIC article opposes secularism with a combination of misunderstanding, misinformation, and dishonesty. For example:

  • The article’s definition of “secularism” is limited to mere religious neutrality, thus failing to include religion-state separation. In other words, it is not full secularism.
  • The article fails to distinguish between public and civic spaces, falsely claiming that the Quebec law suppresses religious expression in the public space.
  • The article suggests that the legislation is “racist (or at least xenophobic).” Thus the article conflates race and religion, just like regressive pseudo-leftists, parliamentary motion M-103 and Islamists.
  • The article even suggests that Bill 21 is “just an implementation of ‘cultural Christianity’” which is a completely nonsensical assertion.

As a friend of mine expressed it on Facebook, “In an unsigned diatribe, CFI Canada, again, uses the standard arguments and half-truths of the regressive left to spew the usual vacuous accusations of xenophobia and racism against Quebec’s laicity. Lame, dishonest and disheartening.”

So what exactly does this horrible Bill 21 propose?

  1. It includes a comprehensive definition of secularism, including the all-important principle of separation between religion and State (the principle which is missing from CFIC’s article). Excellent!
  2. It stipulates that an official declaration of State secularism be inscribed in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Excellent!
  3. It bans public servants on duty in positions of authority, including schoolteachers, from wearing obvious religious symbols while on the job. This is incomplete—the ban should apply to the all civil servants—but a very good start.
  4. It restricts the wearing of face-coverings by public servants on duty and by users of public services. Again, very good!

Rejecting the first two points means rejecting secularism. Rejecting the third point means giving higher priority to religious exhibitionism than to the freedom of conscience of users and students. Rejecting the fourth point means compromising security and communication. Rejecting the third and fourth points means allowing religious fanatics free reign in civic institutions.

Any person who always, without exception, wears an obvious symbol of religious affiliation when leaving home is probably a religious fanatic. If that person refuses to remove the symbol even while working as a public servant, then he or she is certainly a religious fanatic and fundamentalist. Quebec’s Bill 21 would put a small but important brake on religious fanaticism in public services, just as existing Quebec law already bans public servants from partisan political displays. Bill 21 does not discriminate against any religion nor against any group of persons: the only requirement is to remove obvious religious symbols when on the job.

CFIC claims to value critical thinking in addition to secularism. What a bad joke. By rejecting Bill 21, the CFIC article manifests a total lack of critical acumen while offering its support to religious fanatics. We all know that religious fundamentalists, and Islamists in particular, have targeted secularism, especially republican secularism, in their campaign to impose their ideology, and that many so-called leftists have been duped by this strategy. The CFIC article capitulates to the anti-secular propaganda of many media, most mainstream politicians and regressive pseudo-leftists who in turn just regurgitate the Islamist propaganda against republican secularism.

What arguments does CFIC offer to justify the unjustifiable? None. Nothing whatsoever. Other than empty clichés such as “diversity,” their only response is slander, spewing gratuitous accusations of “racism” and such. They have nothing more than that to rationalize their irrationality.

The implications are very serious. CFIC’s current attitude is unsurprising given its past behaviour, but it still constitutes a disgusting betrayal of Quebecers in particular and of secularism in general. CFIC’s behaviour in 2013 could perhaps be explained as simple ignorance of the principles of republican secularism (i.e. CFIC’s failure to go beyond mere religious neutrality to include religion-state separation as well), but its current position is far worse than that. CFIC has gone beyond failing to support secularists and is now transmitting slanderous anti-secular propaganda. The conflation of race and religion is particularly inexcusable.

The current CAQ government of Quebec (unlike the PQ government in 2013-2014) is in a sufficiently strong position that it will in all probability succeed in passing Draft Bill 21 into law. But history will recall the odious betrayal by Canadian organizations outside Quebec, such as CFIC, who reviled the very cause they claimed to espouse.


Correction 2019-05-13: “public institutions” replaced by “civic institutions” for clarity


Next blog: Six Pseudo-Arguments of Antisecularists

Sinéad O’Connor: A Metaphor for the Degeneration of the Left

From courage to capitulation.

2019-01-30

There is a strong parallel between the evolution of Sinéad O’Connor’s religious views and the degeneration of the modern political left in its attitude towards religion.

Sommaire en français Il existe un fort parallèle entre l’évolution des opinions religieuses de Sinéad O’Connor et la dégénérescence de la gauche politique moderne quant à son attitude à l’égard de la religion.

On the 3rd of October 1992, Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor appeared on Saturday Night Live and, at the end of her performance, scandalized both the show’s producers and its studio audience by tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II to protest child abuse in the Catholic Church. O’Connor was vilified by many, but her gesture proved to be completely justified by what we now know about sex abuse perpetrated by so many Catholic priests. Her protest was also an act of enormous courage. A quarter-century later, in September of 2018, journalist Niall O’Dowd asked Do we owe Sinéad O’Connor an apology for speaking the truth about church child abuse? and journalist Kerry O’Shea reported that Atheists think Sinead O’Connor is owed an apology, and then some.

Seven years after the SNL incident, O’Connor was ordained a priest in a Church in Lourdes, France, which had defected from the Catholic Church (which of course did not recognize the ordination). Then, in September of 2018, she announced her conversion to Islam, stating that it was “the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey.” She subsequently announced that she won’t associate with white people, whom she apparently finds “disgusting.” Referring to non-Muslims as “white” is bizarre, and the intensity of her hostility was enough to attract criticism from some fellow Muslims, to their credit.

O’Connor ripping a picture of the Pope
Click to enlarge
O’Connor ripping a picture of the Pope
Source: Wikipedia

I consider these two events in O’Connor’s life to be a fitting metaphor for the degeneration of what is left of the political left. A critical approach to religion is a major and standard aspect of left-wing politics, inspired by Enlightenment principles. Karl Marx is probably the most famous name associated with left-wing criticism of religion, but he was certainly not alone in observing that belief in a fictional sky-cop and an afterlife—where rewards and punishments will be meted out—is one of the most effective scams used by the dominant classes to convince the poor and the persecuted to accept their lot. It should also not be forgotten that Marx, even as he denounced the “opiate of the masses” in that famous quote from the introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, also showed a great deal of compassion for the plight of the victims of this scam.

And yet, in the XXIst century, much of the political left, if it can still be called “left,” has abandoned that approach and has even embraced religion, or at least some religions, especially one in particular (guess which one!). The reasons for this are complex, and I have discussed them in previous blogs such as The Identitarian Left. Suffice it to say that, in the name of minority rights, the current left, or at least part of it, shows a total lack of discernment by classifying very different minorities as worthy of defense (while being selective about which minorities make the cut).

Thus, we have the ridiculous spectacle of so-called progressives (who in reality are reactionary and regressive) supporting the “right” of fundamentalist Muslim women to wear the hijab or even the niqab (which covers the entire face except for a narrow slit for the eyes) anywhere and everywhere, even during a formal citizenship ceremony! We see a campaign, held annually on February 1st, to promote the hijab, as if it were a symbol of freedom, when in reality it is a flag of political Islam and a symbol of the enslavement of women. As Djemila Benhabib observes, “Pro-hijab activists […] try to convince us that the hijab is just so TOTALLY cool! What courage does it take to wear a hijab under the protective dome of Western democracies[…]? The truth is, pro-hijab activists risk nothing. They are protected by laws from which they benefit greatly, but without ever contributing to their advancement.” Thus the need for the #NoHijabDay, #FreeFromHijab campaign to counter this pro-hijab folly.

We see a similar degeneration in the behaviour of Sinéad O’Connor. From being a courageous critic of religious obscurantism and misogyny (in the form of Catholic sexual abuse of children and women) by the Roman Catholic Church, O’Connor has become an apologist for the most misogynistic major religion on earth.

But arguably the worst aspect of O’Connor’s descent into obscurantism, besides her denigration of non-Muslims, is her reference to them as being “white.” The racialization of religious affiliation, which many on the so-called left also do regularly, is completely unacceptable. Race involves innate and immutable attributes of the individual, whereas a religion is an ideology and a belief system which the individual can adopt or reject at will. O’Connor’s conversion to Islam does not make her any less white, obviously! To conflate race and religion is to essentialize religious affiliation and rob believers—especially children born into a religion through no choice of their own—of their freedom of conscience. This ploy is especially harmful in the case of Islam because of that religion’s taboo on apostasy.

Two dirty tricks which are favourite strategies of Islamists and their de facto allies are:

  1. specious accusations of being right-wing or bigoted; and
  2. obfuscation, by conflating race and religion.

The first strategy is particularly ironic and hypocritical, given that political Islam is itself an extreme right-wing ideology. We have a duty to criticize it assiduously and with determination. The purpose of this trick is censorship: whenever anyone dares to criticize Islam or Islamism on social media for example, someone spews venom in an attempt to bully them into silence. In the long term this will not work, but in the short term it succeeds in poisoning the necessary debate about Islam.

The second dirty trick is even worse, because it essentializes religious belief as if it were immutable. “Once a Muslim, always a Muslim” could be the slogan of this strategy. Given the Islamic condemnation of apostasy—punishable by prison or even death in several countries—such conflation is a betrayal of those unfortunate enough to be born into that religion, a denial of their freedom of conscience. Anyone who confuses race with religion lacks the competence to discuss either.

Sinéad O’Connor is a tragic figure. Her comment about non-Muslim’s as “white” is an endorsement of Islamists’ dishonest strategy of racializing religion. But let us not forget her courageous denunciation of Pope John-Paul II back in the early 1990’s.


Next blog: Support #NoHijabDay #FreeFromHijab

The Identitarian Left

2018-08-27

A discussion of several major aspects of the identitarian left, sometimes known as the regressive left, the communitarian left or the postmodernist left.

Sommaire en français Un exposé de plusieurs aspects importants de la gauche identitaire, connue aussi sous les noms de gauche régressive, communautariste ou postmoderniste.

In several previous blogs I have written about the so-called “regressive left”—or more accurately pseudo-left—which is ostensibly on the left end of the political spectrum but in fact betrays traditional left-wing values (i.e. Enlightenment values) in a number of ways, in particular by adopting cultural relativism (usually labelled “multiculturalism”), leading it to be dangerously tolerant of Islamism. I have also discussed my dissatisfaction with the label “regressive left” and suggested a few others in an attempt to arrive at a more accurate name.

After some reading and reflection, I have decided that the label “identitarian left” (or pseudo-left) is probably the best choice, although I consider “communitarian left” a reasonable alternative, i.e. the second-best choice. Whatever you may call it, this retrograde tendency, which has seriously corrupted the left and indirectly strengthened the right, is multifaceted—hence the difficulty in finding an appropriate name.

Below, are a number of aspects of this pseudo-left political tendency. These various aspects are not mutually distinct, as they tend to overlap and converge. (The following list is not necessarily exhaustive.)

The identitarian left is obsessed with identity politics.

National identities are generally considered an anathema. Thus neoliberalism, which seeks to weaken or eliminate national boundaries, is very comfortable with the identitarian left.

Identity politics orients political activism around personal identities, usually the individual’s membership in a group perceived to be either disadvantaged or privileged. These identities are normally based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc., while largely ignoring social class which is emphasized by traditional left-wing politics. In identity politics the emphasis is on the differences between the disadvantaged and the privileged; expressions such as “white privilege” and “male privilege” and admonishments such as “check your privilege” are commonly used to promote guilt. But traditional left-wing politics seeks to build alliances, thus transcending personal identities. Furthermore, the identitarian left tends to be rather arbitrary about which identities it considers legitimate and which is considers retrograde (or even fascist!). National identities are generally considered an anathema. Thus neoliberalism, which seeks to weaken or eliminate national boundaries, is very comfortable with the identitarian left. Quebec nationalism in particular is vilified and denounced as “far-right” or worse. On the other hand, I have never heard a identitarian leftist denounce “anglophone privilege.”

The identitarian left is intersectional.

Intersectionality is a theory of systems of social power, first introduced to feminist theory by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. It began as a current in feminism and has since spread. The basic idea is simple and superficially reasonable: if a person is a member of more than one discriminated group, then their degree of oppression increases with the number of those identities. For example, a black lesbian is triply oppressed because of her race, sexual orientation and gender whereas a white heterosexual woman is oppressed only as a woman. However, this view of oppression leads to a very divisive politics of guilt because in practise it reduces to a sort of point system where a merit point is gained by each oppressed group in which one can claim membership. The result is to see society as a sort of caste system with white heterosexual “cisgendered” men at the top. The goal of the intersectional activist is thus to topple that hierarchy by either leveling it or reversing it.

The identitarian left is communitarian.

Communitarianism means the habit of associating each individual with their community (ethno-religious, sexual, etc.) rather than emphasizing equality among citizens. It thus gives a great deal of authority to any leader who claims (often falsely) to speak for his or her community. This aspect is usually given the much more positive sounding name “multiculturalism” which used to mean cultural diversity but which has since become an ideology of cultural relativism.

The identitarian left is philosophically postmodernist.

Postmodernist philosophy rejects the values of the Enlightenment. In particular, it downplays or even denies the existence of one objective reality to which all have access and which transcends individual perspectives. For the postmodernist leftist, every oppressed or privileged group has their own reality, their own truth. The postmodernist left practices “cultural constructivism” or “blank-slatism” to borrow the words of Helen Pluckrose. Everything is about power dynamics, so the “truth” presented by a dominant group is just a narrative which allows them to preserve and enforce their dominance. It is up to the oppressed to impose their “truth” in return. When taken to an extreme, this approach makes objective knowledge impossible.

The identitarian left is racialist.

Thus, they first eliminate completely the concept of race, allowing them then to reinvent it wherever they want, for example by arbitrarily baptizing religious affiliation as a “race,” so that they can then make accusations of “racism” against anyone who criticizes that religion.

As the identitarian left attaches great importance to personal identities such as race, it generates its own form of racism. In particular, so-called antiracist activists of the identitarian left are often racially divisive, erecting barriers between groups based on old 19th century concepts of race such as “white,” “black,” etc., sometimes even promoting segregation. White-bashing has become very fashionable. However, this form of racism is somewhat different from more traditional racism which asserts actual biological differences. The racism of the identitarian left is more a question of in-group posturing, a form of virtue signalling or what I would call “cool signalling” and for this reason the term “racialism” has been suggested to label this phenomenon. In fact, identitarian leftists will often deny even the existence of race (and any discussion of scientific research into objective, measurable differences between ethnic groups is utterly taboo, an anathema in fact), while nevertheless talking ad nauseum about “racialized” groups. Thus, they first eliminate completely the concept of race, allowing them then to reinvent it wherever they want, for example by arbitrarily baptizing religious affiliation as a “race,” so that they can then make accusations of “racism” against anyone who criticizes that religion.

The identitarian left is Manichaean.

At its worst, the attitude of identitarian leftists is that anyone who disagrees with them is a racist, or mysognist, or fascist, or Nazi, etc. This is one of the most ethically repugnant aspects of identitarian leftism. Basically, if identitarian leftists do not like someone, they just slander the other, with little attempt to engage in any discussion about disagreements. Thus the world is divided absolutely into good and evil, us and them. Everybody is a fascist except for me and my buddies. You want to punch someone? Just label them a Nazi first, thus giving yourself permission to do so! This has led to many specious accusations. The psychologist and popular conservative speaker Jordan Peterson has been called a fascist (he is not). James Damore, fired by Google, has been called a misogynist (he is not). Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, has been called a racist and a fascist (in my opinion, he is neither). Sam Harris has been called a “gateway to the alt-right” (nonsense) and is vilified by the identitarian left because he is such an effective critic of it.

The identitarian left is Islamophilic or Islamolatric.

Given that Muslims constitute a minority in western countries and may be subject to discrimination, and given the identitarian left’s obsession with identity, it has become fashionable to offer privileged status to Islam, treating that religion with kid gloves and accusing anyone who criticizes it of “Islamophobia” or racism or worse. The conflation of race with religion is a crucial element of this gambit.

The identitarian left is antisecular and proreligious.

The identitarian left’s antisecular and proreligious bias is a consequence of its love affair with Islam, its refusal to distinguish between race and religion, and its rejection of Enlightenment values. The results are disastrous. A major example of this is the identitarian left’s enormous propaganda campaign against the Quebec government’s proposed Charter of Secularism in 2013-2014.

The identitarian left is post-Marxist.

The identitarian left can be seen as a form of degenerate Marxism in which the working class, having failed to rally to the Marxist cause, has been abandoned and replaced by a collection of minorities. Thus the identitarian left is post-Marxist but not Marxist. Here are three critiques of identity politics from a Marxist perspective:

The identitarian left is Orwellian.

… within religious minorities [the identitarian left] favours the most pious and fundamentalist among them, thus excluding the moderately religious and the secular.

Here, I mean Orwellian in the sense of using language which is almost the opposite—and sometimes literally the opposite—of reality. For example, the identitarian left claims to be antiracist but in reality it is obsessed with race and promotes racialism, which is its variant of racism. The identitarian left often claims to support diversity, tolerance and inclusivity, but in reality it rejects diversity of opinion, is extremely intolerant of those who disagree with it, and tends to limit its inclusivity to an incomplete list of minority groups. Not only does it tend to ignore or even denigrate the concerns of the majority, but within religious minorities it favours the most pious and fundamentalist among them, thus excluding the moderately religious and the secular. Furthermore, so-called “Antifa” groups, which are like ad hoc paramilitary branches of the identitarian left, claim to fight fascism but consistently make two huge errors: (1) they misidentify as fascists many who are not; and (2) they employ tactics similar to those of fascist goons. Spokespersons of the identitarian left often accuse their adversaries (in particular those who criticize Islam) of promoting a “politics of fear.” However, they themselves promote an exaggerated fear of the far-right, much (but not all) of which exists only in their imaginations. Basically, the identitarian left opposes fascism everywhere except where fascism is currently strongest and most dangerous: within Islamist movements.

And last, but not least, the identitarian left strengthens the political right.

The identitarian left is disastrous because it discredits the political left in many ways—by abandoning Enlightenment values; by abandoning secularism which is a traditional goal of the left; by its divisive racialism, in particular its anti-white racism and its politics of guilt; etc. The result is that this degenerated pseudo-left constitutes an enormous gift to the political right. In Canada and the USA, popular disgust with the craziness of the left has helped right-wing incompetents like Ford and Trump get elected. Yes, endemic racism and bigotry also contributed significantly to the rise of Ford and Trump, but the intellectual bankruptcy of many on the political centre and left also contribued to their victory. In France, the fact that much of the left has abandoned secularism, an extremely important core value of French culture, has resulted in the political right partially taking over this issue and using it to garner widespread popular support. This is not because the population has moved to the right, but because the left has betrayed its own values. The fault is with the left.


Epilogue: The Identitarian Left in Canada

Although the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) which currently holds power in Canada, under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, is a centrist party, not a leftist one, it has traditionally taken some of its ideas—both good (such as universal health care) and bad—from the left. Furthermore, the centre-left New Democratic Party (NDP) has moved increasingly towards the right (particularly under the leadership of Thomas Mulcair, formerly of the Quebec Liberal Party) so that it is not much different from the LPC. Both parties are pathologically attached to communitarianism.

Trudeau displays many of the worst qualities of the identitarian left

Thus, in the category of bad ideas which the LPC has borrowed from the left, we observe that Trudeau displays many of the worst qualities of the identitarian left: communitarianism, Islamophilia, conflation of race and religion (e.g. motion M-103), Manichaeanism (i.e. if you don’t swallow his “diversity” rhetoric, then you are a racist!). Trudeau is notorious for visiting mosques and Sikh temples in order to garner votes. He has declared that Canada is “the first postnational state” and if you are a Quebec secularist then he vilifies you as a Trump sympathizer. All in all, a person of little or no intellectual integrity.


Next blog: The Greatest of All Vices

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part V

The Vicious Circle of Islamophilia

2018-02-21

An infographic which illustrates how a certain left, by treating all Muslims, even Islamofascists, as a discriminated minority, then by abandoning secularism and criticism of religion, thus strengthens the political right by enflaming religious bigotry—which then causes hostility towards and discrimination against Muslims. Thus, the regressive left feeds off its own gross errors.

Sommaire en français Une infographie qui montre comment une certaine gauche, qui considère l’ensemble des Musulmans, même les islamofascistes, comme une minorité discriminée, en est venue à abandonner la laïcité et la critique des religions, renforçant ainsi la droite politique et attisant les préjugés religieux. Le résultat : de l’antipathie et de la discrimination contre les Musulmans. Ainsi, la gauche régressive s’alimente de ses propres erreurs grossières. La version française de l’infographie suit la version anglaise sur cette page.

The Vicious Circle of Islamophilia, How the Left Becomes RegressiveClick to enlarge Also available as a PDF file

Le cercle vicieux de l’islamophilie, Comment la gauche devient régressiveCliquer pour agrandir Disponible sous forme PDF aussi


Next blog: Religious Symbols and the Montreal Police

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part IV

A Collection of Important Articles

2017-11-18

A collection of articles criticizing the regressive left from a variety of points of view.

Sommaire en français Un ensemble d’articles présentant une variété de perspectives critiques de la gauche régressive.

Here I present a variety of important articles published on the web within the last few weeks, each providing a critical view of some aspect of the so-called regressive left and related issues such as the Antifa movement, intersectionality, censorship and dogmatism, etc.

Although I agree with the general thrust of each one of these articles, that does not imply that I agree 100%. For example, I think Kneeland exaggerates when he says that Trudeau is “far more dangerous” then Trump, although the enormous difference in mainstream media treatment of the two leaders should be enough to set alarm bells ringing very loudly. I also wonder if Claudé is exaggerating when he accuses Antifa in Quebec of terrorism.

One does not have to agree with everything in an article in order to find it useful. Indeed, one of the worst aspects of the regressive left is its Manichaean division of any issue into completely separated poles, one absolutely moral and the other absolutely evil, so that debate becomes very difficult or even impossible. But in the real world, there are many shades of gray. Intellectual diversity is a fact of life.

Jonathon Kneeland

To say that Trudeau is far more dangerous then Trump is, I think, an exaggeration. Trudeau, unlike Trump, does not have direct access to nuclear weapons capable of destroying the planet (which Kneeland fortunately recognizes). I would say, rather, that each is very dangerous in his own manner. Neither is a statesman. Each is incompetent but in very different ways.

Kneeland accuses Trudeau of playing “the vile and always eventually deadly game called identity-politics” although the way Trudeau plays it is to deny that Canada has any identity at all, declaring that Canada is “the first postnational state.”

Trudeau: a “spoiled twit”

Referring to Trudeau as a “spoiled twit,” Kneeland’s criticism of Trudeau’s obsession with his favourite buzzword “diversity” is devastating, hilarious and refreshing:

To aid in Trudeau’s dangerous, nihilistic, and suicidal desire to transform our country into a borderless, ghettoized, and completely unrecognizable country, he prefers to use easily spreadable and empty platitudes and avoids serious and rational discussion. For example, he frequently recycles the phrase “diversity is our strength”. The glaring stupidity of the statement is quite enough to deal with. The fact that news outlets parrot the idiotic phrase on his behalf actually makes it dangerous.

Specifically, Kneeland decries Trudeau’s promotion of Bill C-16 which adds gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination—Kneeland says it forces people to deny basic biological science—and motion M-103 which condemns so-called “Islamophobia.” Kneeland characterizes both measures as “nightmarish Orwellian policies” which use incoherent language.

Diana Johnstone

  1. Antifa in Theory and in Practice, 2017-10-09
  2. The Harmful Effects of Antifa, 2017-10-25
  3. Les effets nocifs des Antifa aux Etats-Unis (French translation of the previous article), 2017-11-04

A few quotes from (1) and (2):

“Antifa attacks on dissidents tend to enforce the dominant neoliberal doctrine that also raises the specter of fascism as pretext for aggression against countries targeted for regime change.”

  • Since historic fascism no longer exists, Bray’s Antifa have broadened their notion of “fascism” to include anything that violates the current Identity Politics canon: from “patriarchy” (a pre-fascist attitude to put it mildly) to “transphobia” (decidedly a post-fascist problem). (1) [Mark Bray is author of “Antifa: the Antifascist Handbook”]
  • The masked militants of Antifa seem to be more inspired by Batman than by Marx or even by Bakunin. (1)
  • Self-appointed radical revolutionaries can be the most useful thought police for the neoliberal war party. (1)
  • By making mass immigration the litmus test of whether or not one is fascist, Antifa intimidation impedes reasonable discussion. (1)
  • Antifa follows the trend of current Identity Politics excesses that are squelching free speech in what should be its citadel, academia. (1)
  • […] criticism of the system that produced Trump vanished in favor of demonization of Trump the individual (2)
  • The events of Charlottesville resembled a multiple provocation, with pro- and anti-statue sides provoking each other, providing a stage for Antifa to gain national prominence as saviors.  Significantly, Charlottesville riots provoked Trump into making comments which were seized upon by all his enemies to brand him definitively as “racist” and “fascist”. This gave the disoriented “left” a clear cause: fight “fascist Trump” and domestic “fascists”. This is more immediate than organizing to demand that the United States end its […] trillion dollar policy of global militarization […] (2)
  • Antifa attacks on dissidents tend to enforce the dominant neoliberal doctrine that also raises the specter of fascism as pretext for aggression against countries targeted for regime change. (2)
  • […] the violence and the censorship which are the hallmarks of the Antifa brand (2)
  • In keeping with neoliberalism, Antifa is out to privatize censorship, by taking over the job itself. (2)
  • The verbal violence of Antifa is worse than their physical violence insofar as it is more effective. […] It is the verbal violence that succeeds most in preventing free discussion of controversial issues. (2)

J. Oliver Conroy

Conroy describes a panel discussion entitled “Identity Politics: The New Racialism on Campus?” and sponsored by Spiked as part of its “Unsafe Spaces” American tour. The event took place at Rutgers University in early October, a week after the first event of the tour was cancelled at a Washington D.C. college which disinvited Spiked. The Rutgers event was attended by a large number of students whose only purpose in attending was evidently to disrupt the discussion and silence the panelists. A few quotes:

“Intersectionality is a strange kind of essentialism that professes to hate essentialism. It assumes people are determined by inherited characteristics, which is exactly what racists also think.”

  • Many of the disruptions took the form of impromptu, condescending lectures on intersectionality, a once obscure academic theory that has over time become the driving doctrine of identity politics for a significant part of the progressive and radical Left. […] Many conscientious people will find it difficult to argue with intersectionality’s premise. […] But intersectional activists push the logic to its perverse extreme. They insist that some identity groups’ “lived experience” grants them unquestionable and unchallengeable authority, both moral and political. Members of other, historically ‘privileged’ groups (men, whites, heterosexuals) have little right to an opinion at all. If their interests come into conflict, the latter are morally obliged to yield to (certain, recognized) minorities. The intersectional worldview is obviously incompatible with the basic tenets of life in a liberal democracy. That doesn’t bother intersectional activists, however, […] There is a creepy authoritarian bent to all of this. For someone really steeped in the intersectional worldview, almost any tactic or behavior can be justified if it serves the purpose of fighting “oppression,” the definition of which is elastic and gets a little more capacious every day. Because many intersectional activists believe that exposing people to harmful ideas can cause them emotional trauma, they view speech as a form of literal violence.
  • The worst of the audience’s animosity was directed at Kmele Foster, who is black. “How can you deracialize yourself?” one student demanded, […] “It seems odd to me for one to invest themselves in a concept” – race – “that they agree has been contrived and invented,” he [Foster] reflected at one point.
  • One of the things that struck me over and over was the protesters’ complete intolerance of complexity. Despite intersectionality’s roots in academic theory, the politics of the intersectional Left are deeply anti-intellectual. It’s not just that many intersectional activists seem to have no capacity for nuance; they fear and hate it, because they hate anything with the potential to complicate their narrative. Things are right or wrong; you’re with us or against us. Human beings, rather than complex agents with independent motivations and intellects, are nothing more than the sum total of their identities. Get on the bus or get under it.
  • I’m not the first to notice that intersectionality has less in common with an academic school or political movement than a religion. It is a fundamentalist religion, with no tolerance for ambiguity and, like any newly founded religion, it is insecure. People who disagree are blasphemers; people who change their minds are heretics; […]
  • Like Marxism in its more vulgar forms, intersectionality is highly deterministic, with no allowance for individual human agency; […] Instead of class consciousness, intersectionality takes racial and sexual/gender identity as its chief conceptual categories.
  • Intersectionality is a strange kind of essentialism that professes to hate essentialism. It assumes people are determined by inherited characteristics, which is exactly what racists also think.
  • […] students today regard free speech – once one of the defining causes of the American Left – as a “rightwing” doctrine, and therefore suspect.

Helen Pluckrose

  1. The State of the Campus and Women’s Self-Censorship, 2017-10-24
  2. When Intersectionality Silences Women, 2017-11-07

A pair of articles which explore how censorship and intolerance of ideas which diverge from the reigning dogma of intersectional feminism are widespread on campuses in the English-speaking world and the disastrous consequences of this situation for female academics themselves. Here is a quote from the first article:

“in terms of obstructive protests, calls for censorship, banning or firing, the justification appears to be a very specific leftist ideology and the targets to include both the right and the left”

There is clearly much evidence of campus censorship and it has been common to describe this very simply as “leftist” or “liberal” (often used interchangeably in the US) censorship of conservatives. Whilst this certainly is part of the story, it does not seem to be the whole story. Evidence has been provided by academic faculty members that intimidation and threats can come from both right-wing and left-wing students but in terms of obstructive protests, calls for censorship, banning or firing, the justification appears to be a very specific leftist ideology and the targets to include both the right and the left. As seen above, gender-critical feminists and ex-Muslim critics of Islam have also been targeted. Gender-critical feminists are usually radical feminists, often referred to pejoratively as “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” or “TERFs.” They are nearly always decidedly left-wing and include anti-capitalist analysis in their feminism. Ex-Muslim critics of Islam are politically diverse and Maryam Namazie is a communist. The situation on campus is clearly more complicated than a dominant left suppressing a minority right.

Yves Claudé

[…] the Antifa movement over the years […] has degenerated into something very closely resembling what it claims to oppose […]

This article is particularly important because it deals with the Antifa movement as it has developed here in Quebec. The author became actively involved in the early days of that movement some three decades ago, at a period when there was indeed a local neo-Nazi skinhead movement which the Antifa opposed, but which has now almost completely disappeared. Claudé describes the evolution of the Antifa movement over the years, how it has degenerated into something very closely resembling what it claims to oppose, having adopted practices, symbols and violent methods similar to those of fascists.

Here are a few quotes (translated by me), ending with Claudé’s damning indictment of the movement:

  • The “antiracism” of the Antifa movement is very dubious, because it sees itself as a fraternal coalition of different “races” which are distinct, separate entities. […] This racialist representation of society is objectively racist and is in fact basically similar to that of neo-Nazis. This racialism, when combined with the shared cult of violence, explains why we see such a remarkable back-and-forth between the two camps.
  • [In] 2012, the Antifa movement expanded into the student community. It diversified by including a Maoist component as well as an alterglobalist contingent. It then became imbued with postmodernism which was spreading thoughout the universities, thus overvaluing ethno-cultural differences and contributing to the racial segregation of individuals, to the detriment of social and political citizenship. The movement thus made a definitive break from its libertarian roots (“Neither God nor Master”) and began to ally itself with fundamentalist religious groups as these groups mobilized to oppose secularism.
  • It thus becomes increasingly obvious that the Antifa movement is an adversary of modern Quebec, of Quebec’s emancipatory and feminist values and its aspirations for national souvereignty. […] In the absence of true “fascists” (who have become very marginal, divided and disorganized), the main targets of Antifa’s threats and physical violence are increasingly independentists, secularists, etc.
  • In 2016, the Antifa movement […] developed an explicitly terrorist orientation, […]
  • The Antifa movement, having taken a path towards criminality and terrorism, indulging in fantasies of armed struggle, currently represents both a break with democracy and a serious problem of public security for Quebec, threatening companies as well as the physical integrity of many citizens, progressives, feminists, independentists, first-nations people, etc., but also that of media professionals. It must therefore reorient itself radically, in order to be socially and politically legitimate.

Next blog: Notes on the Regressive Left, Part V: The Vicious Circle of Islamophilia

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part III

ANTIFA: Kangaroo Court Implemented by a Street Mob

2017-09-13

This blog was also published in the Q2 2017 issue of Secular World, magazine of Atheist Alliance International, pages 22-23.

More discussion about the Antifa movement, how it harms the left and dovetails with neoliberalism.

Sommaire en français Un autre blogue au sujet du mouvement Antifa, comment il nuit à la gauche et comment ses buts convergent avec ceux du néoliberalisme.

The Antifa hatefully hate “hate.” They have all the rationality of a kangaroo court implemented by a violent street mob. They are like obnoxious children playing at revolution. It is difficult to know exactly what their ideas are, because they are so loosely organized. But we can judge them by their actions.

The Antifa are intellectually sloppy and physically violent, which is a dangerous combination, because they are unable to judge when violence is justified (which should be rarely, basically in self-defense) and they are unable to judge whom should be the target of their opposition. Bad behaviour, badly directed = disaster waiting to happen.

The Antifa are incompetent anarchists, unable to identify clearly whom we should be fighting. Only when the enemy clearly identifies itself (by wearing neo-Nazi symbols or KKK attire, such as in Charlottesville) are they able to judge correctly.

The burden of definition of “fascism” falls especially on those who oppose it violently.

If you want to oppose “fascism” then you must define what that is. If you allow yourself to employ violence, then it is even more important to define who fascists are, as rigorously and as precisely as possible, in order to avoid serious errors. The burden of definition of “fascism” falls especially on those who oppose it violently.

When is anti-fascist violence justified? Hint: If your country is being invaded by Hitler’s army (like Poland in 1939) then violence is justified. If an academic threatens to speak about his/her research or his/her book at your university, then violence is NOT justified.

The Antifa claim to oppose neoliberalism. But they are anti-nationalists and apparently oppose all borders. Thus they facilitate neoliberalism which has similar goals — against nationalism, against borders — because that allows corporations free reign and prevents the nation-state from adopting measures to improve or protect the quality of life of its citizens — measures such as workers’ rights, social programmes, environmental regulations, corporate regulation, secularism, etc. The use of national boundaries is foolishly denounced by the Antifa and other pseudo-leftists as “xenophobic”, “fascist” or worse. One of the consequences of this is that the Antifa oppose secularism, because secularism requires the state to impose some reasonable constraints on religious expression within the state apparatus.

A few examples of counterproductive Antifa actions:

  • Quebec City, 2017-08-20, where Antifa beat up a man because he was carrying an anti-monarchist flag.
  • Toronto Gay Pride, 2017, where a gang identifying itself as Antifa tried to stop Iranian gay Muslims and ex-Muslims from marching in the parade, accusing them of “Islamophobia”. At least the Antifa were not violent in this case. They withdrew when the police intervened and the Iranians were then able to march.
  • Middlebury College, Vermont, 2017-03-02, where there were violent protests against a speaking engagement by Charles Murray. Hate Murray if you must, but he is not a fascist by any reasonable definition of that term.
  • Montreal, 2015, a peaceful demonstration against legislation (Draft Bill 59) which would have censored criticism of religion by labelling it “hate speech” was met by Antifa counter-protesters chanting anti-fascist and anti-racist slogans. The counter-protesters were apparently too stupid to recognize the difference between religion and race. Police kept the two groups apart and there was apparently no violence. Fortunately the legislation (which the Antifa effectively supported) was withdrawn, because it would have been the equivalent of a new anti-blasphemy law at the provincial level.
  • Numerous incidents in Berkeley, California. A good overview of events there is provided by Raymond Barglow in Radically Wrong in Berkeley.

One of the most effective ways of undermining a cause is to defend it badly…

If you consider yourself a leftist but support the Antifa, then what the hell is wrong with you? You are probably in denial. Loyalty to a cause may be a virtue; but if many ostensible proponents of that cause make major errors which harm the cause and enable its adversaries, then blind loyalty is no longer a virtue, rather it is a vice. One of the most effective ways of undermining a cause is to defend it badly (thanks to François Doyon for this excellent meme); one of the best ways to promote a cause is to criticize its errors. As leftists, we must recognize that the Antifa feed into the extreme right. The Antifa are an extreme manifestation of the fanatical postmodernist nonsense underlying what has become known as the “regressive left” and which has seriously undermined progressive politics.

Suggested reading: Noam Chomsky: ‘Antifa is Wrong in Principle — a Major Gift to the Militant Right’. You will find criticism of the Antifa on many right-wing web sites, and that is only to be expected, because when so-called leftists discredit the left by behaving like assholes, then of course the right loves to talk about it. As Barglow observes:

Not surprisingly, Berkeley’s intolerance has become a favorite subject on Fox News and other right-wing media. […] But voices on the left have criticized this intolerance too: veterans of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement issued a statement in support of Yiannopoulos’ right to speak on campus, explaining that “Banning him just plays into his hands politically…. The best way to battle his bigoted discourse is to critique and refute it.” Violent demonstrations in Berkeley, purporting to “fight fascism,” fuel it instead; […]

Our duty is to oppose Antifa and to boycott all Antifa events — i.e. do not join them. Find other, more intelligent and more effective ways (peaceful protest, debate, writing, etc.) to express your opposition to ideas which you consider dangerous or retrograde.


Next blog: Notes on the Regressive Left, Part IV: A Collection of Important Articles

Notes on the Regressive Left, Part II

ANTIFA: Shock Troops of the Regressive “Left”

2017-08-25, Links added 2017-08-31

The “Antifa” movement claims to oppose fascism. But its actions resemble the behaviour of fascist thugs more than those whom it opposes. The recent events in Quebec City are an example.

Sommaire en français Le mouvement « Antifa » prétend lutter contre le fascisme. Mais lors de ses manifestations, il se comporte davantage comme des voyous fascistes que ceux auxquels il s’oppose. Les événements récents à Québec en fournissent un exemple.

The accompanying image by Branco, which draws a parallel between the Antifa and Nazis, is an exaggeration, but it is not a gross exaggeration. On the contrary, I would call it just desserts, considering how Antifa groups demonize anyone they disagree with as fascist, racist, etc. Let them taste a little of their own medicine. Furthermore, the Antifa often behave as violent, dangerous goons, recalling the behaviour of Nazi thugs. The cartoonist Branco is, unsuprisingly, a right-winger. Why is it that such criticism rarely comes from the left? People on the left should be criticizing the Antifa movement because it discredits the left.

Cartoon by Branco
Cartoon by Branco

It would be more accurate to say that the Antifa are the shock troops of what has become known as the “regressive left” (which is left more in name than in reality), i.e. the pseudoleft which sees fascists everywhere except where they exist (i.e. Islamofascists) and which has poisoned and corrupted the left in several countries, including the USA, Canada and France. Sam Harris summed it up well in his statement that “The Left is Irredeemable.” That too may be an exaggeration, but I fear that it is not.

If you think that spontaneously punching Nazis is acceptable, then you must condone the behaviour of those who would arbitrarily assault hijab- or niqab-wearing women or anyone else they might perceive as being Islamofascist.

Was it not the Antifa movement which came up with what is arguably the stupidest and most dangerous meme of the year, if not the century: “Punch a Nazi”? If you think that spontaneously punching Nazis is acceptable, then you must condone the behaviour of those who would arbitrarily assault hijab- or niqab-wearing women or anyone else they might perceive as being Islamofascist. Considering the pseudoleft’s propensity for false positives in their never-ending search for dastardly Nazis, the slogan “Punch a Nazi” is a recipe for universal violence. Even if the person in front of you really is a Nazi, punching him or her is a stupid thing to do, unless in self-defence.

In the events in Quebec City on 2017-08-20, the group which the Antifa opposed (“La Meute”) did not self-identify as far-right. (In this blog I will not comment on a recent event in the USA. To American readers I say: do not be chauvinistic by assuming that the rest of the world is just a reflection of what happens in your country. There was no group of white-supremacists, KKKers or neo-Nazis in Quebec City.) In fact, on their web site, La Meute denies being far-right, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist, etc. But I think it is obvious they are right-wing, as their name suggests — meaning “The Pack” as in a pack of dogs or wolves — but not neo-Nazi. They are a new group and it is not yet clear just how to characterize them accurately. Nevertheless, the media have already begun labelling them “far-right” or “extreme right.” However the mainstream media, just like the Antifa, have lost all credibility in this area. They are so quick to smear people and groups with such labels that they are clearly incompetent when it comes to positioning anything on the right-left political axis.

Drapeau des Patriotes
Flag of the “Patriotes” from 1830s.
Yellow star & “habitant” added by
Quebec independentists in the 1990s.

At any rate, thanks to the violence of the Antifa and the calm behaviour of La Meute, the latter came off looking more respectable. The Antifa attacked two people (not with La Meute) simply because they were carrying Quebec flags (considered “racist” apparently). One carried the provincial flag, the other the flag of the “Patriotes” who fought in the republican (i.e. anti-monarchist) democratic rebellion of 1837-1838. They injured one of the flag-bearers while chanting « Tout le monde déteste les fascistes » (“Everyone hates fascists”). The Antifa apparently oppose nationalism (although they seem to have no problem with Canadian nationalism) and seem incapable of distinguishing it from fascism. If the Antifa were truly of the left, they would honour the Patriots’ flag, not condemn it.

Before attack by Antifa  After attack by Antifa
Man carrying Patriotes flag,
before and after being attacked by Antifa.
Both images from this video.

It is obvious that the regressive “left” and the Antifa play into the hands of the right by bringing disrepute upon the left. The pseudoleft hyper-polarizes the political field, alienating leftists and centrists and pushing them to ally with those further to the right, pushing them into camps which pseudoleftists may arbitrarily label as far-right. La Meute has undoubtedly garnered a lot of support because our elected officials follow the regressive “left” in adopting a policy of complacency and capitulation with respect to Islamofascism, vilifying anyone who dares to criticize the religion on which it is based.

[…] the regressive “left” and the Antifa play into the hands of the right by bringing disrepute upon the left.

To conclude, the Antifa movement may involve many well-intentioned people, but I see them as colossal jerks at best. I leave the final word to journalist Nicolas Lacroix who describes the Antifa using the delicious expression “Dollarama Che Guevaras.”


Further Reading

Videos


Next blog: Notes on the Regressive Left, Part III: ANTIFA: Kangaroo Court Implemented by a Street Mob