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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Canada's Human Rights Gestapo

This is how Canada handles those who "offend Islam."

Canada’s Human Rights Gestapo
By Deborah Weiss | Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Perhaps you’ve heard about the Ezra Levant affair. Ezra Levant was the publisher of the now defunct Canadian magazine Western Standard, which was a politically-oriented news magazine, analogous to the National Review.

In 2006, Ezra’s magazine republished the Danish cartoons of Mohammed with an accompanying article about the Muslim riots that followed. It argued that journalists should not censor themselves out of fear of violence from a radical Muslim minority, and chastised media that refused to exercise their free speech rights on those grounds.

Subsequently, the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities (“ECMC”) filed a complaint against the Western Standard with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. After passage of the Canadian Human Rights Act in 1977, the Canadian Human Rights Commissions and the Human Rights Tribunals were established for the purpose of prohibiting discrimination and guaranteeing equal opportunity for all. The commissions investigate each complaint and determine whether there are legitimate grounds upon which the case should go to trial at a tribunal.

The Act reads in part:

section 12: “No person shall publish, issue or display, or cause to be published, issued or displayed before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate against a person or a class of persons, or

section 13: “… is likely to expose a person or class of persons to hatred or contempt [because of race, religious beliefs, etc. …].”

No actual harm is required to prove one’s case. No actual intent to foster hatred is required. The only requirement is that the communication is “likely….to expose” an individual or group to hatred. And unlike with U.S. defamation laws, truth is not a defense. It is no wonder that the tribunals have a 100 percent conviction rate for section 13 cases.

The EDMC’s complaint alleged that the Western Standard’s publication of the Mohammed cartoons was “anti-Islamic, racist and reproduced for the purpose of inciting hatred against the Prophet and Muslims.” It further claimed that “the republication perpetuates negative stereotypes of Muslims.”

During Ezra’s hearing with the commission, he was asked what his intent was when he published the cartoons. Visibly upset, he insisted that his magazine should be able to exercise unbridled free speech without regard to intent. With provocative statements, he practically begged the commission to convict him, so that he could bring the case to a “real court” and destroy the credibility of the Human Rights Commissions altogether. Ezra’s legal written response to the complaint explained that the article and the cartoons merely constituted objective news published in a news magazine.

On July 29, 2008, the Human Rights Commission (“HRC”) issued a report on its investigation, and ECMC’s complaint was dismissed. The commission ruled that in balancing free speech rights against the laws that prohibit discrimination, the Western Standard’s publication of the cartoons, “in its full context” did not warrant a trial. Yasmeen Nizam, a civil litigation attorney and an ECMC director, disagreed. She believed that Western Standard should have been brought to trial “regardless of the context.” As she stated, the goal in filing the complaint was “to educate people” on the increased “risk” of discrimination against Muslims in a post-9/11 world.

In the meantime, the HRC’s investigation of the Western Standard article was completed to the tune of 500,000 dollars in taxpayers’ money, and 100,000 dollars to Ezra and his magazine. Had the complaint been filed in a Canadian civil court, the loser would have been required to pay Ezra’s attorney’s fees. But in HRC cases, the complainant doesn’t even have to pay for his own attorney’s fees. The investigation is conducted at taxpayer expense. Had the complaint been filed in a Canadian criminal court, charging the magazine with criminal incitement of hatred, then Ezra would have been entitled to due process and a speedy trial. Instead, he was dragged through the mud at the Alberta’s Human Rights Commission for 900 days, at the mercy of a bunch of bureaucrats.

Currently, there are fourteen Canadian Human Rights Commissions, employing 1000 people, with a budget of 200 million dollars annually. Together, they function as a parallel court system, often at direct odds with laws administered through the Canadian civil and criminal courts. While the establishment of the Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals may have started out with good intentions, over time they have become so extreme that they regularly side with radical Islamists. In a crusade to stamp out offensive language, they stifle free speech. Additionally, the legal fees for respondents can be astronomical. When they win, their speech constitutes exorbitantly expensive speech, not free speech. Soft jihadists purposely use these nuisance suits as lawfare to shut people up and prevent them from voicing their opinions. The process is the punishment. As Ezra protested: “[t]he process I was put through is a warning to journalists who would defy radical Islam.” In effect, the commissions judge both speech and thought. Worse, they preclude open political debate about the nature of radical Islam and the west’s enemy in the war on terror.

At first blush, the dismissal of ECMC’s complaint against the Western Standard might seem like a win for free speech rights. But it’s not quite the good news it appears to be. As Ezra himself so astutely pointed out, it merely means that in the process of government censorship, the Alberta Human Rights Commission approved of his article. And that should send a chill down everyone’s spine.

Deborah Weiss is an attorney and regular contributor to

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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Democratic Party's "Unindicted Co-Conspirator"

President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Ingrid Mattson (center), pictured at the 2008 Democratic Convention, where she helped lead a convention-sponsored interfaith session. This, while ISNA was recently named an "unindicted co-conspirator" for a federal trial dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas and while ISNA recently propagated material on its national website calling for violence against Jews and Christians.

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The Company that U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison Keeps 2

The following images of Representative Ellison were taken after CAIR and ISNA were named as "Unindicted Co-Conspirators" by the U.S. government for their involvement in the financing of Hamas.

Keith Ellison pictured with CAIR-Chicago (a.k.a. CAIR-Illinois) Executive Director and CAIR National Strategic Communications Director Ahmed Rehab and CAIR-Chicago Chairman of the Board Safaa Zarzour

Rep. Ellison pictured, at November 2007 CAIR-California (a.k.a. CAIR-Los Angeles) event with CAIR-California Executive Director Hussam Ayloush and CAIR National Board member Fouad Khatib

Rep. Ellison speaks at ISNA's September 2007 annual convention

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Company that U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison Keeps

Congressman Ellison (center) with "Unindicted Co-Conspirator" Jamal Said (right)

Congressman Ellison (right) with Al-Qaeda web designer Mazen Mokhtar (left) and "Unindicted Co-Conspirator" Siraj Wahhaj (center)

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Salute to a Holocaust Heroine

By, Deborah Weiss
FrontPage Magazine, August 8, 2008

Last Wednesday, July 30, 2008, the House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution 361 “commemorating Irena Sendler, a woman whose bravery saved the lives of thousands during the Holocaust and remembering her legacy of courage, selflessness, and hope.”

So, who was Irena Sendler? Born to a father who was a physician, primarily to poor Jews in Warsaw, Irena grew up with the spirit of compassion. She worked as a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which provided food and services to the destitute, orphans and the elderly. When World War II began, Irena illegally registered Jewish families under Christian names and continued to provide them with aid. To dissuade the Nazis from inspecting Jewish homes, she reported that they were infected with contagious diseases such as typhus and tuberculosis.

In 1942, when hundreds of thousands of Jews were herded and sealed into a sixteen block area known as the “Warsaw Ghetto,” she was appalled at the conditions they were forced to live in. Crowded, freezing, without food and hope, they faced certain death by execution, starvation or deportation to Nazi death camps. There they would be tortured, forced to work relentlessly, subjected to cruel “medical experiments,” and ultimately mass murdered.

Irena joined the “Zegota,” an underground resistance movement which provided safe passage and assistance to Jews. She took charge of the children’s division and directed efforts to rescue Jewish children from their awful fate. In order to gain legal access to the Warsaw Ghetto, she obtained a pass from Warsaw’s Epidemic Control Department. She visited daily, established contacts, and brought food, clothes and medicine. She wore a yellow armband with the Star of David to show solidarity with the Jews and to avoid being caught by the Nazis.

Irena persuaded Jewish parents to part with their young children in order to save their lives. With her own life in danger, she smuggled 2500 Jewish children out of the ghetto. She snuck them out in ambulances, potato sacks, body bags, coffins, and tool boxes. Some of the children entered the local church through a ghetto entrance as Jews, and exited the door on the Aryan side of Warsaw as Christians. With assistance from coworkers in the Social Welfare Department, Irena issued thousands of false documents on behalf of the children. The children were given to Christian families with new identities on the condition that they would be returned to their families of origin and their Jewish roots when the war was over. In order to preserve their accurate identities, Irena noted in code form, all the children’s original names along with their new identities. She placed the documents in jars and buried them underground in a neighbor’s back yard.

Eventually, the Nazis caught her. She was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. The Nazis broke both her legs and feet, crippling her for life. Despite this, she refused to relinquish the names of those who had assisted her or the names of the Jewish children she had saved. She was sentenced to death by firing squad, but was spared at the last minute when members of Zegota bribed a Gestapo agent to halt the execution. She escaped from prison, but lived in hiding pursued by the Nazis for the duration of the war.

After the war was over, Irena dug up the jars and tracked down the children she had rescued, hoping to reunite them with family members. Sadly, most of their families had perished in the Treblinka death camp. Through all of this, Irena never considered herself a heroine, but expressed only regret that she had not been able to do more.

Later in life, Irena Sendler was honored with numerous awards including the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial’s “Righteous Among Nations” award, Poland’s highest civilian decoration, “The Order of the White Eagle,” and the Jan Karsi award for Valor and Courage. She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Additionally, Irena’s life was documented in the film, “Tzedek: The Righteous” and an award-winning play was written about her rescue work, titled “Life in a Jar.” She died on May 12, 2008, at the age of 98.

The resolution regarding Irena Sendler was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 31, 2008, where a vote is pending. Irena Sendler gave life and hope to 2500 children whose lives would otherwise have been snuffed out. Let us use this bill as an opportunity not only to commemorate the bravery and compassion of this heroic woman, but to remind ourselves of the difference that one person’s unyielding strength and hope can make in a time of darkness and war.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The War on Words

By, Deborah Weiss

During the past year, several federal agencies – including the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the National Counter Terrorism Center – have declared a war on words. Specifically, these agencies have issued memoranda discouraging their employees from naming the enemy in the War on Terror. The prohibition included words such as “jihad,” “Islamist,” “Islamofascism,” and “caliphate,” among others.

It’s not that the terms are inaccurate. Quite the contrary, as the agencies conceded, they often are used by the terrorists themselves. But they urged censorship all the same. Calling jihadists “holy warriors,” as they call themselves, is accurate, but it risks glorifying them. Moreover, even when used accurately, words like “Islamist” might be misinterpreted by moderate Muslims – who are henceforth to be known as “mainstream Muslims” – and should therefore be avoided so as not to offend anyone in the Muslim community. The phrase “Muslim community” should also be avoided.

To be sure, all the memos featured disclaimers stating that they were “not official policy.” But the fact that they were distributed on agency letterhead suggested at least a tacit endorsement of their content. Taken together, the memos marked a victory for government-imposed political correctness over clarity in the War on Terror.

That’s certainly how Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra saw it. On May 8, 2008, Hoekstra introduced an amendment to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that would prohibit government agencies from using any intelligence funding to enforce their new speech code. The amendment states: “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act my be used to prohibit or discourage the use of the words or phrases ‘jihadist’, ‘jihad’, ‘Islamofascism’, ‘caliphate’, ‘Islamist’ or ‘Islamic terrorist’ by or within the intelligence community or the Federal Government.”

At first the amendment failed to make it out of committee. Consequently, 900 people signed a petition in protest. As a result, on July 16, 2008, the Intelligence Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009, which included Hoekstra’s amendment, was presented to the full House of Representatives. This time the amendment passed in a 249-180 vote. All 180 opposing votes came from Democrats. Despite this opposition from their party’s leadership, 55 Democratic Congressmen voted in favor of the amendment.

During the floor debate, Rep. Hoekstra made a case for the critical importance of words in the conflict with Islamic terrorists. “Al Qaeda itself uses these terms to describe its fight against America, our allies, and moderate Muslims around the world,” Hoekstra noted. “Why then would we prohibit our intelligence professionals from using the same words to accurately describe Al Qaeda’s stated goals?”

Hoekstra also noted that the agencies’ memos suppress free speech. Citing death threats that jihadists routinely make to authors, cartoonists and journalists, he insisted that government agencies must not stifle free speech. Yet another danger of mandating political correctness, he observed, is that it would contribute to the politicalization of America’s national intelligence community.

On each of these counts, Hoekstra is correct. But more is at stake than free speech. The government’s memos preclude an honest and open discussion about the nature of our enemy. Terrorism in a tactic, but we are fighting those who subscribe to a dangerous ideology – radical Islam – that we ignore at our peril. It was not a coincidence that the Council on American Islamic Relations, a group with longstanding ties to Islamic terrorist organizations and an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal conspiracy to support Hamas, was one of the groups to applaud the government’s new terminology for terror.

Another problem with the unofficial speech codes is that, even as they will inhibit debate in the U.S., they will have no influence on the debate in the Middle East. Government officials can ban all the words they like, but jihadists will continue using them. What’s more, their Muslim audience will continue to look to religious leaders for the “proper interpretation” of Islam. Neither United States government officials, nor Westerners more broadly, will be considered authoritative on these matters.

Rep. Hoekstra’s amendment will not alter this reality. Nor is it likely to change the climate of political correctness that exists in our government agencies. Still, it is important symbolically. It demonstrates that at least some officials understand the nature of our enemy, as well as the strategic importance of naming the threat that America faces. When a similar bill comes to a vote in the Senate, let us hope its members will evince the same kind of courage.

Deborah Weiss is an attorney and regular contributor to

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