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Alberta Diary

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David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues.

It's time for Ezra Levant to apologize or explain his hateful Roma commentary

| January 3, 2013
Ezra Levant

It's 2013, and it's time for Sun News Network commentator Ezra Levant to either apologize for or explain his comments on Sept. 5, 2012, about the Roma.

Now, Levant appears to be the kind of young man for whom a phrase like "never apologize, never explain," would take on mantra-like authority. Nevertheless, it's time, or certain conclusions about Levant's views about the Roma people will be impossible to avoid.

More important, the same unhappy conclusions will be unavoidable in the case of the Sun News Network, which continues to employ Levant.

Gerald Caplan nicely summarized the situation up to now on his Rabble.ca blog on Christmas Eve, observing, "somehow, it's okay to utter the most viciously racist slurs about the Roma that would be wholly unacceptable if said about any other group on earth. Ezra Levant of the Sun News Network demonstrated as much recently with an astonishing hatemongering attack on the entire Roma people."

While Sun News Network has done its best to suppress it, the Levant clip, which has been described as "nearly nine minutes of on-air racist hate speech," can still be heard in audio format. The Toronto Police are said to be investigating the commentary under the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code.

For its part, Sun News Network has apologized for Levant's hatemongering and attempted to wash his vicious screed down the corporate Memory Hole.

However, it’s hard to take the Sun News apology very seriously when it stated, "it was not the intent of Sun News, or anyone employed by Sun News, to promote negative stereotypes about the Roma people." (Emphasis added.) They didn't know Levant worked for them, then? They didn't hear what he said about the Roma? Please!

So when Sun News Network says, "we regret our error in these broadcasts, and we apologize unreservedly to the Roma people and to you, our viewers," that needs to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt by everyone concerned.

As for the perpetually loudmouthed Levant, he has uncharacteristically remained absolutely silent on this topic. Not only has he not apologized, he seems to have said nothing at all on the subject to anyone.

Now, I have to pause here to note that I do have a dog in this fight. I have been excoriated on the air by Levant for refusing to show up for a mugging on his Sun News Network program after I criticized his use on the air of a Spanish obscenity normally translated as "f**k your mother."

In a June 26, 2012, segment of his Sun News Network program, The Source, which continues to be aired by the network via the Internet even as it seeks more generous licensing provisions from its friends in the Harper Government, Levant complained that I wouldn't even respond to his emails.

"Now, I’ve invited Climenhaga onto this show several times," Levant told his listeners. "He refuses to come on. I’ve sent him a list of questions, asking about his beef with me. He won’t even answer. … not even the courtesy to reply to me." (You can listen to the entire thing here if you have a strong stomach and high resistance to boredom.)

"He's not just a snitch and a bully, he's awfully thin skinned too," Levant concluded of me. "Big union boss, he can dish it out, but you can't take it, eh?"

The title of this segment of his program was, "You want to silence me?" The implication, obviously, is that in Levant's case that can't be done.

So, seeing as I had Levant's email address, courtesy of his missives to me in my role as a "big union boss" (I wish!), I wrote him and asked him if he would comment about his characterizations of the Roma people and the Sun News Network's apology for his conduct. I even gave him a list of questions so that he would have the opportunity to ponder his replies. All the emails appear to have been received.

And you know what? Levant, this great free speaker who can’t be silenced, didn't even give me the courtesy of a reply!

So I think we can conclude that, in fact, Levant can be silenced -- although not, obviously, by decent Canadians who think he should act with some civility as well as stop hatemongering on the air.

Since he didn't answer my questions, or even respond, I am really in no position to say what silenced the relentlessly noisy and noisome commentator, but it's hardly beyond the realm of possibility, is it, that it was Sun News Network hoping to get the controversy to go away so it can get on with its bid for a better license and a larger reach to more Canadians to continue spreading Levant's ugly views?

And small of me though it may be, it's quite satisfying to see Levant revealed as a bully, thin-skinned and a hypocrite who can dish it out but can't take it -- just as I suspected.

But the bigger issue is Levant's continued silence to all questioners about his hatemongering against the Roma.

Surely there is a line that can't be crossed in Canadian public discourse and, unlike the case with his casual obscenities and lame banana jokes, this time Levant has crossed it.

So the time has come for him to apologize, sincerely and categorically. He can take comfort from the knowledge that a sincere apology, when you know in your heart you have gone too far, shows you as a bigger person and is good for the soul.

But if Levant will not apologize, Sun News Network needs to take more appropriate measures than a self-evidently insincere apology of its own or it will be fair for Canadians to conclude that it supports and endorses his hatemongering, and intends to continue enabling it.

In that case, we really need to ask ourselves as citizens if we ought to encourage Sun News Network's ability to broadcast on-air racist hate speech with more generous licensing provisions.

Speak up, Mr. Levant!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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Comments

Ezra - Life In The Little Demagogue's Navel

         I do NOT 'subscribe' to 'the little demagogue's' propaganda machine known as SUN news, one in which Levant often features as a 'greased up cog'.

         Levant ('94) and Harper ('91) went to the same University (Calgary) and in similar programs:  commerce, economics, how to get more $$$...that kind of stuff...indoctrinated from youth by the same or similar mentors, and many other connections between them. (see wiki and compare).

         With the nearby petroleum cash machine always ready to 'pay' for the best of who would be of their own profit-oriented minds... under whose influence do you think Levant might have succumbed?...Well, for little Ezra it was the Koch suckers...oh, sorry, the Koch brothers; and we know them a 'bit' as being of just about anything and everything, here or anywhere: Wal-Mart, Monsanto, mining, petroleum (Calgary?), agriculture... fertilizers [hmm....2.5 tons of it did end up not so far for Wichita headquarter in the Oklahoma City bombing... and, the executed Tim McVeigh? Well, Ezra and Tim, though of different religions, are both of similar minds, just different ways of expressing and either way just as destructive.

         I am sure that 'the little demagogue', while navel gazing, sees Levant in his navel, and speaks to him ever so softly, in whispered tones. And from there Levant knows exactly what to say. And where did Levant pick up his twisted interpretations? Well, perhaps at his internship with the Koch_______s! Dang! this Levant is probably still being paid by Koch_______s.

         "Levant saw "youthquake", the term he used to describe what he identified as a conservative youth movement of the 1990s, 'as similar to the 1960s civil rights movement' [sic] except that instead of being enslaved by racism, his generation was "enslaved by debt"..." (I don't doubt) "...and, in order to liberate itself..." he says, "... society needed to dismantle elements such as trade unions, the minimum wage, universal health care, subsidized tuition and public pension plans.[4]" (from wikipedia - Ezra Levant)

         Levant says it right there: "... society needed to dismantle ..." i.e. 'break up', effectively saying that OUR society needed to be dismantled, and then tells us how to do this (see Ezra in wiki) in order to achieve (shared) deluded ends. It is an approach that would only weaken 'society'.

         The road envisioned by Levant does NOT lead forward, but rather back to ages of serfdom and increasing oppression. And, that OUR 'society' should be doing this just to allow a minute few to tell us what to do, regardless of the evidence of benefit to the contrary? No one is that foolish or ignorant. Those that claim otherwise are nothing if not self-centered and self-serving. Those supporting such an agenda are traitors to all of humanity. Meanwhile those few manifesting such views continue to trade life and destruction at will and for profit; and this impacts mostly forcefully upon First Nations of all continents.

         Indeed, there are aspects in OUR society that have outgrown their usefulness, but by and large these 'outgrowths' are the result of privatization of public assets, resources and control of capital. So if anything does need to be 'considered' for OUR planetary society's trash heap it would be any further developments in those directions, for example, rent seeking policies such as Bill C-45.

         Now why would WE THE PEOPLE even want to consider such proposals, thus dismantling parts of society that do work for something less humane, less efficient and more oppressive? Isn't it in our best interest to BUILD OUR society realizing common goals through common effort?

         I fail to understand Levant's solution (and obviously that of 'the little demagogue') to being "enslaved by debt", when it should be obvious to just about anyone that the reason for being "enslaved by debt" is due largely to a developing privatization and exploitation of just about everything that belongs to a 'Commons' (of Canada in this case) that can now most effectively be protected by First Nations and with the deserved support of all who can recognize and value quality of life.

         Worldwide, First Nations have become our last line of defense in protecting quality of life at the most elementary level on this planet. Others who may also have insights would be those who are close to First Nations culture and bring to it new insights. In accepting and working with First Nation cultures we have a path to peaceful transformation, one that may well avoid violent confrontation and revolution.

         With IDLE NO MORE it is fast becoming obvious that First Nations, whether in Canada or elsewhere, are the real representatives for quality of life on planet Earth. First Nations here in Canada are justifiably reaffirming their rights to oversee this process NOW, and so are deserving of everyone's support.

         I am not saying that there is no place of value for nomadic culture as well in our midst. Nomads are as a dispersal method for what we can learn from each other. In this way, in accepting the strength of diversity, will we come to grow together much stronger as a society of and for this planet.

         That being said, I have upon occasion examined this 'other side of the coin' know as SunNews, and Ezra Levant, only to be left with less 'spirit' than I had to begin with. Just hearing Levant speak makes me feel like he has stolen from me. He is shallow and he speaks only to the lowest common denominator, those who are confused by facts supported with sources, not opinions. This of course is the reason for 'the little demagogue's' attacks on science - sources are often too contrary to his opinions. Thus his audience can be broad, but definitely NOT inspiring.

         Ezra Levant is NOT a credible source - many already know this. In one of many libel suits brought against Ezra, "Justice Robert Smith ruled that Levant "spoke in reckless disregard of the truth and for an ulterior purpose of denormalizing [sic] the Human Rights Commission across Canada..." (wiki-Ezra). Need I say more in further exposing the character of such an individual?

         Well, maybe one more point: why the hell would we ever elect an economist as head of state? That is so much like letting the fox in the hen house.

 

I hope you are good at holding your breath David. Levant is one of the most arrogant and overbearing and hyper people you will ever confront. He was groomed for success by the Fraser Institute for goodness sake to be one of Canada's new leaders. What he's supposed to be leading of course is another matter all together. 

I have been having run ins with Ezra or a number of years now over freedom of speech issues and his chutzpah is boundless as is the size of his fly trap when it comes to calling people down.

Speaking of his hatemongering abilities he has publicly stated on his show The Source, (Nov. 8, 2012) after first slandering my person numerous times "I hate Arthur Topham!" 

Given that Ezra is of the Jewish faith and a strong supporter of Zionism and Israel, like Harper, his comments about my person were stated after I had just been formally charged with a sec. 319(2) "hate" crime against "people of the Jewish faith". All a result of criticism of the Zionist ideology and the actions of the state of Israel. 

Yes, I know, it's all confusing but it shows how the media is compromised and how it abuses its privileged position to attack others for crimes that SunNews Media is committing itself.

My longstanding experiences with Ezra tell me that you best do an end run around him as he will never apologize for his actions unless he's convicted of a criminal offence and forced to by law. My suggestion is that whoever "Roma" is they or someone associated with them ought to lay a sec. 319(2) CC "willful promotion of hatred" charge against Levant. Then he would have to clear himself in a court of law and if found guilty make restitution and apologize. It would be fitting and just in his case.

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