Anti-Racism gone mad...
Jonathan Kay of the National Post attends a conference against racism, but finds it 'transformed into a radicalised cult of censorship.'....
Which is to say, I'm used to being the odd man out. But I've never felt quite so odd as I did last week at "Combating Hatred," a day-long biennial anti-racism conference hosted by the University of Toronto for the benefit of the city's lawyers, judges, police officers, educators and government workers.
My panel ("The Media: Part of the problem or part of the solution") didn't start till the late morning. But I showed up a few hours early to enjoy the free breakfast and listen to the keynote speaker, a native activist and lawyer named Donald Worme.
And I'm glad I did, because a large part of Worme's speech was dedicated to the theme Why Jonathan Kay Is a Racist.
Shortly after taking the podium, Worme quoted at length from an article I'd written on these pages last month titled "Off The Reservation," which argued that our system of native reserves is inhumane, and should be overhauled for the good of aboriginals themselves. He (falsely) claimed that I wanted natives to "cease to exist as a people," that I was calling for the "destruction" of First Nations and -- most outrageously -- that I was an advocate of "a form of 'final solution."
And all this while I was 100 feet away, eating a blueberry muffin and drinking a double-double.
After Worme finished comparing me to the Nazis, he went on to excoriate Margaret Wente of The Globe and Mail, who wrote a column last month about abused native children who are put at risk when politically correct government officials refuse to place them with white families. Between the two hit jobs, the over-arching theme for the day had been established: Challenging the received pieties of identity politics renders you a presumptive racist.
In fact, Worme proved to be tame compared to some of the speakers that followed. One anti-racism activist and diversity "consultant," for instance, claimed (without evidence) that Canada's leaders "validate racism," and argued that special Afro-centric schools should be set up for Toronto's blacks because their culture is being systematically "denigrated" in multiracial public schools. Then he made my jaw drop by quoting -- not once, but twice -- from the work of African-American poet Amiri Baraka, an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist who believes Jews were warned to stay away from the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Next came a Muslim activist who upped the ante by arguing that the state of inter-group relations in Canada is even worse than in Pakistan, a country where political dissidents get thrown in jail and Sunni suicide bombers explode themselves in Shiite mosques. Hatred in Pakistan, she argued, at least has the advantage of being overt. Here in Canada, on the other hand, it is subtle and hidden -- which apparently makes it more invidious.