One heck of a week. A study in contrasts.
Justin Trudeau in India, Michael Chong in Washington, D.C., and the main attraction: Is an Ontario school board really binning Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl owing to 'diversity' sensitivities?
L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu
First off, to all my Hebrew comrades out there, Happy New Year, and to all my Canadian subscribers I happily recommend, for the day that’s in it, my friend David Roytenberg’s Canadian Zionist Forum. Also of note: last week Irwin Cotler, my lodestar at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, was awarded the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honour along with Moroccan statesman André Azoulay, for their unique contribution to the Jewish People.
Just in passing: President Isaac Herzog is the grandson of Belfast’s Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, a faithful supporter of Irish independence who was appointed Ireland’s chief rabbi by the Irish Free State in the revolutionary tumults of 1921.
President Herzog’s dad, Chaim Herzog, is well known for his tenure as Israel’s envoy to the UN, after serving as a major-general in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate. It is more rarely remarked upon that Chaim Herzog was also a Dubliner who was Ireland’s bantamweight boxing champion, in his teens.
This is just to say that if you really think the Jews run everything, you should familiarize yourself with the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Ballybunion.
Now, quickly to business.
Michael Chong in Washington, Justin Trudeau in Delhi.
That was what this newsletter was going to be mainly about, but there’ll be just a few quick points under this subheading. Best to read my column in the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen. I focus mainly on the Liberal government’s persistent and mostly deliberate incoherence on matters related to Beijing’s vast influence-pedding infrastructure in Canada.
Post version: Chong lauded by U.S. lawmakers while a scolded Trudeau has wings clipped: Conservative MP's treatment in Washington stands in marked contract to PM's frosty reception in India. Nice to be on Page 1 of the print edition for that. Citizen version: Trudeau ducks on China problem; Michael Chong spells it out: The Conservative MP was applauded this week by a committee of U.S. lawmakers for shining a light on Beijing’s concerted strategy of political interference in Canada.
Overlooked while Trudeau was at the G20 in Delhi, where he ended up stuck for 36 hours owing to his broken CC-150 Polaris: His only official bilateral meeting with anyone was with World Bank President Ajay Banga, from which the press gallery’s pool reporter for the event, the Canadian Press correspondent Mickey Djuric, was barred. Her media pass was handed over to Trudeau's official videographer.
Trudeau’s frosty sort-of-meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was pleased to meet officially with several other G20 leaders, was followed by a banquet Modi hosted for everyone. Trudeau skipped it. For an inkling of just how unserious a person Trudeau has become on the “world stage,” I highly recommend you read Paul Wells’ Grounded: The PM's plane is transformed into a metaphor.
For a deep-background account of why it is that Modi’s government so deeply resents Trudeau’s persistent shoe-horning of India beside China whenever the subject of foreign interference comes up, here’s my Real Story series on the subject: Is India Interfering In Canada's Affairs?, Did Ottawa Sabotage Modi's Peace Talks?, Conspiracy Theories, From Inside The House and The Myths That Sustain Khalistan To This Day
For Michael Chong’s full brief to the 18-member House-Senate committee on China this week, here’s CPAC’s video of the whole thing.
I write this in the waning hours of the year 5,784, so I better hurry along to our main attaraction.
With This Bunch, It’s Always Year Zero
I really didn’t know what to make of this story. It may or may not be about “woke” lower-order bureaucrats in the sprawling Peel District School Board culling such books as the Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank’s sensational account of her time as a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in an attic in wartime Holland. It sure looked like it. Still does.
If she were alive today Anne Frank would be 93, but after her capture she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, so I can’t ask her opinion. It’s not clear why her book would have been binned by school district geniuses along with the Harry Potter series, and The Hunger Games, and the fictional memoir of a Black slave girl Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, or the picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Which is apparently a fairytale admonition against junk food.
The Peel District says it’s not altogether true that the half-empty library shelves students encountered on their return from summer break are simply the consequences of some stupidly arbitary rule to get rid of all books published before 2008, because there is no such rule. Besides, some schools in the District do still have Anne Frank’s diary on their library shelves.
So what, then?
Did some schools send The Diary of a Young Girl to the local landfill because of “concerns” of the kind that erupted last year, to the effect that Anne Frank enjoyed an edge arising from her “white privilege”? Does the objection to the Harry Potter series arise from the hysterical, utterly false and apparently ineradicable falsehood that series author JK Rowling is somehow dangerously hostile to transsexuals? Should the main character in The Very Hungry Caterpillar be understood as violently fat-phobic?
After soaking up the coverage in the National Post, the CBC (credit where it’s due, the CBC broke the story, Empty Shelves With Absolutely No Books) the Toronto Sun, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, CP24 and so on, I still couldn’t quite figure out what happened here.
I think I’ve figured it out now. You may need a stiff drink for this. But hey, New Year’s Eve, right?
Books not “anti-racist,” “anti-oppressive,” or “anti-colonial” enough.
There’s a clue in the 45-page ministry-ordered Review of the Peel District School Board from February, 2020, which was all about “systemic discrimination, specifically anti-Black racism; human resources practices; board leadership; and governance issues” in the district’s schools. As in the recommendation that PDSB “undertake a comprehensive diversity audit of schools – including naming, mascots, libraries and classrooms. This should include evaluating books, media and other resources currently being used in schools for teaching and learning English, History and Social Sciences to ensure that they are inclusive and culturally responsive, relevant and reflective of the student bodies and voices, and broader school communities.”
Whatever that might mean.
Among the 27 “directions” given to the school board, there was Directive 10: “The Board shall establish a new, robust Equity Office managed by a superintendent of Equity, which amalgamates the existing Equity and Climate portfolios. The Equity Office shall be responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive, strategic, annual Equity Action Plan to address systemic inequities experienced by both students and staff. The Board shall require the Equity Office to develop the Action Plan in collaboration with the Board’s Human Rights Commissioner. . .”
And in Direction 18, which was to be completed in June this year:
“The Board shall, through its Equity Office, established pursuant to Direction 10, undertake a comprehensive diversity audit of schools, which shall include naming, mascots, libraries and classrooms. The Board shall evaluate books, media and all other resources currently in use for teaching and learning English, History and Social Sciences for the purpose of utilizing resources that are inclusive and culturally responsive, relevant and reflective of students, and the Board’s broader school communities. . .”
The school board claimed in a Wednesday statement that its “weeding” of books is simply intended to get rid of books deemed to be inaccurate, or “dated,” or rarely-read, or if they’re falling apart. Books available to students should be “current and relevant.”
But school board was being rather less than candid, and here’s where we get into the weeds, so to speak.
If you want to know what I’ve found about all this, you’ll need a paid subscription. If you don’t subscribe at all, you should.