“Today, I feel very alone, very concerned and very sad.” With thesewords, Gil Troy, a tenured professor at McGill University, prefaced acommentary that was published in the National Post — that impoverishedflagship of the marginalized and demoralized — decrying ConcordiaUniversity’s decision to bar former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak fromspeaking at Concordia.

Jason Portnoy, co-president of Hillel, invited Barak to lecture atConcordia. Alas, Troy wrote, the University’s decision “discriminates”against Portnoy’s “basic right.” Portnoy invited the famously taciturnBarak because he “wanted to stretch his education byinviting Barak to speak.” Driven by the University to the throes ofignorance, Portnoy issued an appeal for the “FREEING of free speech”in an open letter to the community.

Concordia’s decision to deny Barak a venue leaves one fearing a slide“down that slippery slope of intellectual totalitarianism”, wrote Troy.Yes Sir! echoed the editorials of The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star,the Montreal Gazette, and the National Post.

I should take advantage of the odd consensus that is reflected in thepages of our country’s diverse media outlets, and will ask the reader toallow me this opportunity to make a proposal.

The basic Canadian values of freedom of speech and academic inquiry areunder threat. “The forces of violence and intimidation”(FVI) — in the bravewords of a Globe and Mail editorial — have cowed an academic institutioninto denying Ehud Barak a venue for a lecture, for they oppose freedom ofspeech.

Let us ignore the implications of allegations against Barak (whichhave been documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and theIsraeli human rights group B’Tselem). The laws in our country say that anindividual accused of war crimes should face trial. I submit that this lawconstitutes a grave violation of our basic right, enshrined in theCanadian Charter of Rights, to freedom of expression and of our right tohear foreign speakers — who are accused of ordering extrajudicialexecutions; collectively punishing civilians; targeting civilianpopulations with napalm, vacuum and cluster bombs; and responsibility forthe killings of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators — speak in Canada.

Gil Troy, the clanging bellwether of the mournful flock, says it best byremaining silent on these allegations. The issue is not whether the manis responsible for participating in the slaughter of thousands ofcivilians, as Barak was when he acted as the deputy commander of Israel’s1982 Lebanon invasion, which in two months killed over 17,000 civilians. The issue is that hehas controversial views, and we have a right to hear him, and to ask him toughquestions. And the summa summarum of the case is that, if we were deprivedof hearing such people speak at Concordia, we wouldn’t function as ademocracy.

We must not allow the unconstitutional law that aims to hold alleged warcriminals accountable drive us towards an intellectually totalitarianculture. We must not sink to the level of failed Asian and African states,in which the media is concentrated in the hands of a few, and where mogulsdismiss critical columnists and journalists.

The dangers are real, and they must be countered. We are witnessing afrightening threat to our values and our way of life. There is no room forequivocation; a bold response is required to defeat the FVI and ensure ourway of life.

Allow me to propose that Concordia University invite Abu Mus’abAl-Zarkawi, a commander of an Al-Qa’ida affiliated insurgent group in Iraq.

Now is the moment to decide whether you are with us or with them, the FVI.This is the moment that will separate the believers in the untrammeledright of free speech in Canada for foreign persons accused of crimesagainst humanity, from the unwitting allies of those who seek to harm ourway of life.

I will suffer no objections to this bold and resolute proposal. It is truethat this man is a wanted terrorist, although, like Ehud Barak, no courthas found him guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. However,should the United States, and other states whose civilians have beenslaughtered by Zarkawi, object, we mustn’t be cowed.

I propose that we affirm that the “basic right” of Portnoy “to stretchhis education” by listening to Zarkawi, is an incontrovertible Canadianvalue. We Canadians are all in agreement that we must fight, and even wagewar, to uphold our values, and the sovereignty of our nation. Should thestates critical of our effort to host Zarkawi resort to violence andintimidation, our response must be “Bring them on!”

Zarkawi might be reluctant to accept Concordia’s invitation. We may beobliged to assure Zarkawi safe passage to Canada, where he will lecture atConcordia. To signal our resolve, a Joint Task Force squad must bedispatched to ensure Zarkawi arrives safely to Canada. One can’t dismissthe possibility that Zarkawi will have to stay in Canada, to escape arrestby the Coalition of Violence and Intimidation, which would then deprive usof our right to hear him speak. In that event, Zarkawi will remain inCanada, and Portnoy can listen to him lecture until Gil Troy and the cowscome home.

We must not surrender to those forces that would deprive us Canadians ofour right to hear Zarkawi speak.

And to those who harbour misgivings towards my proposal, they must be madeto understand that failing to ensure our “basic right” to hear Zarkawispeak is a victory for the terrorists.