Punished for being right
MacLeans.CA/blogs is liveblogging the British Columiba Human Rights Tribunal Proceedings against Mark Steyn. The most striking entry in the running narrative of proceedings are these arguments from the complainant's counsel, who tells us, in legalese of course, that freedom of speech confers no protection when offending Islam:
Lead counsel for the complainants (i.e., Mohamed Elmasry and the Canadian Islamic Congress) is Faisal Joseph. ... Section 7.1 of the BC Human Rights Code is the relevant legal text, prohibiting exposure to hate. Free speech, in Joseph’s humble submission, is a “red herring.” ... Islamophobia is the real issue. Steyn’s article shows “multiple hallmarks of hate.”
As a matter of fact, Joseph may be partly right. Perhaps the fear of a certain kind of Islam is the unspoken and central subject of the proceeding; the elephant in the room. But what the counsel for the complainants will never address -- nor will the Human Rights tribunal itself -- is the factual question of whether that phobia is fully justified.
Heaven forbid history show that it is. Mark Steyn can be fully forgiven by mainstream media for being wrong. But they will never pardon him if he is proved right. And in the way of these things it is better to remain wrong with your reputation for sagacity intact than to recognize the truth about your judgments and yourself.
The sudden and precipitious drop-off in the media coverage of Iraq is largely due to the reluctance among pundits to advertise the fact that they were wrong. Iraq is unmentionable precause because things are going well. Well for Iraq means not so well for pundits who staked their reputations on failure. Abe Greenwald at Commentary Magazine writes: "After years of telling us the war on terror was creating more terrorists, the mainstream media has mysteriously woken up to the fact that Islamic extremism is on the wane. Newsweek is the latest publication to run a support-for-jihad-is-fading piece.". The Washington Post has quietly and recently done so as well. Better to concede past mistakes in judgment quietly the better to deliver more judgements of the same quality in the future. But it comes at the price of clinging to the same false premises and ignoring the most glaring lessons. Greenwald writes:
there is an important omission in the sudden coverage of moderate Muslims: No one talks about the effect of the Iraq War. The MSM can dodge the issue all they like, but the fact remains that the Coalition’s toppling of Saddam facilitated the first organized rejection of fanatical Islam in the Middle East. Back in November 2005, while everyone stateside was crying fiasco, a group of Sunnis in Anbar province joined forces with a clutch of U.S. Marines and began to wrest their country back from al-Qaeda and its sympathizers.
And that is precisely why the "human rights" proceedings against Mark Steyn and company are so wrong. It refuses to recognize what has been proved in Iraq: that it is better to stand with Muslims who are seeking their freedom than to throw in with those who would suppress any dissent. If the proceedings continue on the basis that free speech is a "red herring"; that under Section 7.1 of the relevant regulations prescribing the offense "innocent intent is not a defense, nor is truth, nor is fair comment or the public interest, nor is good faith or responsible journalism", then the Tribunal will continue to be wrong so that it can call itself right.
Better that Steyn and company should throw themselves upon the mercy of the complainants. Offer them restitution. Make an abject apology. In short, do all the things that the Man We Have Been Waiting For wants to do with Iraq, which is understand the price of everything and the value of nothing. And if that sounds bizzare, then so what? Logic is a "red herring" in this case.
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