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That's enough, Canada. I'm outta here.
For a while anyway. I've been taking time off work to catch up on work, which is unwise. Do not follow my example, but do read this newsletter, and prepare to be at least slightly aghast.
Here’s a Sunday newsletter to catch everybody up on the backstory of a blockbuster scandal that is only now making its way into the news. Where the story has appeared it sometimes comes with that now-routine banality: Warning: This story contains language that may be offensive. As if it’s just the f*cking language in the story that might give offence. Grrr.
I probably shouldn’t even be thinking about this stuff because I’m supposed to be on holiday & away from my duties with the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen. Subscribers may recall a couple weeks back I let on that things would likely be pretty slow around here during August. Slow in my working life? I wish.
There’ll be some bloodcurdling background here on that story that you’re not likely to find in the respectable newspapers (yet, anyway) but before that, a digression about where I’m headed, and why I’m going there. Don’t tell anybody. I’ll be on the road by the time you read this.
Here’s the why.
I’m afraid of heights. I think it’s a kind of acrophobia, except it’s not dizzy-making in my case, but rather the experience of a light-headed sensation and a weird feeling like minor electric shocks to my legs. I’m making it sound a lot worse than it is. The thing is, I’m also strangely drawn to heights, from afar. I have dreams about the Megler Bridge. No lie.
The Megler is a huge spindly affair that opened to traffic in 1966 and is supposed to be able to sustain wind gusts of 155 miles an hour. It crosses the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon, not far from the open ocean. It’s been calling to me again, and I’m surrendering. I’m riding my 2008 Triumph America (865 cc, 61 horses) rather than my beloved 1977 & 1/2 Triumph Bonneville T140E because the Bonnie is nimble and quick but the America is like a two-wheeled limo.
The Megler is the longest truss bridge in North America, just a smidge over four miles from the Ilwaco side to the Astoria side. When you ride southbound you’re quite low to the water, but you’re being pulled inexorably toward the terror for more than four minutes and there’s nothing you can do and then it’s Sweet Mother of God I am up in the damn sky. The bridge deck up there is 205 feet above the water at high tide, and then it loops a full 360 degrees around and coils back down to the blessed earth again. There’s a highways yard there where I usually pull off to catch my breath and congratulate myself.
I really do need to get outta here. I’ve managed some quality time riding with the lads since my “holiday” began but I’ve only been swimming once and I haven’t caught a single fish. Those two deep-dive projects I mentioned in my last newsletter keep pulling me back in. By all means do subscribe, and take up a paying sub if you haven’t already so I don’t end up working for free, which is a habit I’m trying to break. Even so, there’s no paywall in this edition of the Real Story.
I’ve got myself sorted for now. I’m to settle in for a bit on the Oregon coast, visit an old friend around Neskowin and then make my way back home. The northbound Megler crossing is not such an ordeal. It’s a bit spinning-heavenward crazymaking at first but within a minute or so its downhill, then that long low straight bridgedeck back to the Washington side and landfall just west of Dismal Nitch (yes, Dismal Nitch). This is my first foray into Americaland since the Covid, which I’m still finding hard to believe. I’ll be mostly in the vicinity of Netarts and Tillamook and Depoe Bay and such places. So, all good.
The bloodcurdling background on that breaking story I mentioned.
I really don’t know how to describe this accurately and succinctly without making it sound fantastical. It’s two things in one go.
It’s “Diversity and Inclusion” Minister Ahmed Hussen’s Heritage Canada using its “anti-racist program” funds to pay a drooling Jew hater (who appears to loathe the Kurds and also calls Quebeckers low-IQ “frogs”) to lead diversity sensitivity training sessions for the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission. That much has now been reported. The Global News version: “Feds taking action over ‘disturbing’ tweets by anti-racism project consultant.” Well, isn’t that good of the feds.
But it’s also a story about Heritage Canada requiring federal broadcast regulators to take instructions about inclusiveness from a crank who’s a regular on the Khomeinist regime’s Press TV and the Kremlin’s RT & Sputnik propaganda platforms. He also does duty as a megaphone for Syrian mass murderer Bashar Assad and frequently collaborates with the notorious Eva Bartlett in that vast “far-left” global network of pro-Kremlin and pro-Assad disinformation operations.
It’s all the same story. It’s all the same guy. His name is Laith Marouf. Here’s his rap sheet on the Documentation Project run by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Here’s a little gallery of his racist obscenities on Twitter. Fun fact: Marouf’s Twitter account had already been suspended for hateful conduct before Hussen christened him an “anti-hate” emissary. So he opened a new account, but it’s view-protected. And anyway this isn't about Heritage Canada needing to simply do a better job at vetting so as to bar contractors so stupid as to give themselves away with their own antisemitic outbursts on Twitter. Something's deeply rotten here.
Marouf has built a 20-year public profile of lurid & hateful ideas, actions & associations. He’s built a career out of it. Openly. It's all he's ever done, going back to his days at Concordia when the university was an international embarrassment of far-left “activism.” A highlight: During a September 2002 visit from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, protesters spat on Jews, smashed windows, picked fights with cops and generally acted like overprivileged jackasses. In the middle of it all was Laith Marouf, on the roof of a police van, shouting into a loudspeaker.
Marouf’s daddy was a Syrian diplomat at the time, apparently assigned to the Montreal headquarters of the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Office. Marouf was a failed student, banned from Concordia a year earlier for spraying anti-Zionist graffiti on things, getting physical with campus security and allegedly uttering death threats. Marouf took the college to court and lost.
[Intermission: For background and insights on this stuff there are two Real Story chums and subscribers you should be following on Twitter, if you’re so inclined to that platform: Zev Ben Meir זאב בן מאייר (@arbutuspointBC) and Hansard (Paraphrased) @Hansardish. Ask Zev about what the hell the Liberal MP Anthony Housefather has been up to. Ask Hansardish about the lengths the NDP’s Heritage critic Peter Julian will go to distance himself from this imbroglio and then act like this stuff actually matters to him when he has no choice but to say something.]
The specifics of the hubbub involve Marouf’s role as a key beneficiary of a $133,822 Anti-Racist Action Program grant from Hussen’s Heritage department to the “Community Media Advocacy Centre,” where Marouf is ensconced as its senior consultant. CMAC was awarded the contract to build “an anti-racism strategy for Canadian broadcasting,” if you don’t mind.
Marouf’s vileness came to public notice last week on Twitter, which is where news increasingly breaks these days. It appears to have been the polymathic journalist, disc golfer and all-round brainiac Jonathan Kay who kicked everything off on August 12 by drawing attention to Marouf’s rancid Twitter output. For instance: "You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, aka the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters."
But much credit is owed to Mark Goldberg, the amazingly patient founder of The Canadian Telecom Summit, who noticed the Heritage Department’s contract with Marouf’s CMAC, announced jointly by Marouf and Ahmed Hussen on April 14. Writing on his own website back then, Golberg asked: “Was sufficient due diligence performed when Heritage officials were reviewing this funding request? Should the Government of Canada be funding (directly or indirectly) purveyors of hate?”
After Kay’s alarm-ringing started making people sit up and pay attention, Golberg wrote: “Four months after I started asking questions, I have still seen no action by the government to distance itself from this online purveyor of antisemitism.”
Apart from some commentary, this Canadian Press article, which has appeared in the Toronto Star, the CBC, the National Post, CTV and so on, is pretty well the only reporting on the scandal (is it okay to call this a scandal?) so far. Fair play to reporter Marie Woolf who had to bash something out for deadline, but this isn’t just a story about a federal consultant’s “disturbing tweets.”
CMAC’s contract calls for a series of public events across Canada, running to November. And Goldberg was already on to Marouf’s federal trough-dining last year, when the CRTC ordered nearly $13,000 to be paid to CMAC to defray Marouf’s costs while intervening in CRTC regulatory proceedings concerning the Accessible Canada Act, aimed at removing barriers for people with disabilities.
What Goldberg wanted to know: “How could the CRTC have missed the context of ordering payment for his participation in a regulatory proceeding?” The CRTC’s justified its generosity this way: “CMAC has demonstrated that it meets the first criterion by representing people with disabilities who are Indigenous or racialized, or who identify as women, and by elaborating on its membership and expertise.”
Nice work if you can get it. Here’s a question of my own: Should federal regulators even be bound to some weird “anti-racism strategy” for Canadian broadcasting? I don’t really know, because I’m not sure what Team Trudeau even means by “anti-racism.” The “anti-racist” instruction materials developed for Global Affairs Canada define “racism” in terms you won’t encounter in the definitions of any presentable dictionary: Only “white people” can be racist.
According to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, also lavishly funded by Heritage Canada’s Anti-Racist Action Program, it’s only the extremism of the far right that’s a worry. The far left is, well, nice, and last year CAHN was whining about something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that seemed to suggest that left-wing extremism might also be a global problem. Not so, said the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
“The far-left want equal rights 4 all,” according to CAHN, conveniently overlooking the conspiracy theorists who still get their stuff printed in The Nation, the Assad fanciers, the Corbynites, the Kremlin apologists at Greyzone, the “anti-Zionist” hysterics, and on and on. “The far-right fantasizes about killing people like the PM if they won power. The far-left fantasy is saving the environment, ending racism/misogyny (etc.), basic needs for all. Stuff like that.”
By these sorts of standards, you could be indistinguishable from a Nazi, but so long as you mumble about Zionism and mutter about decolonization and your pigmentation isn’t quite of the “Aryan” kind, then no worries. You’re a marginalized person. You couldn’t be a racist even if you tried, because you aren’t white.
I noticed fuzzy thinking of precisely this kind in Trudeau’s circles in the weeks before his Liberal team was first elected, back in the spring of 2016. It’s been there all along. It hasn’t gone away.
The Liberals in in the just-established Ottawa riding of Nepean had “green-lighted” the candidacy of the Liberal Party of Canada’s former national outreach director, a certain Nour El Kadri. This had caused my Syrian-Canadian comrades no end of confusion and anxiety, owing to El Kadri’s apparent intimacies and associations of long standing with the upper echelons of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party in Canada.
A fascist party within Bashar Assad’s ruling coalition, the SSNP was running death squads at the time in and around Homs and the suburbs of Damascus. Active as well in Lebanon, the SSNP was known for its very own stylized swastika, an anthem to the tune of Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles, a tendency to suicide-bombing and assassination and its fantasy of a Greater Syria from the Levant to the Magreb, expunged of the Jews.
It doesn’t get much clearer than that. But isn’t it grand to have a nice Arab gentleman stand for the party! Senator Mobina Jaffer certainly thought so, as did the eccentric former cabinet fixture Sheila Copps and former House speaker Peter Milliken. They each trumpeted El Kadri’s virtues. After I wrote about all this the Liberal war-room generals ditched El Kadri. But he’s done alright for himself.
El Kadri is still a professor at the University of Ottawa. He’s now the president of the Canadian Arab Federation, an organization that destroyed its own reputation more than a decade ago over its enthusiasms for Hamas and Hezbollah and for its sordid ‘‘anti-Zionist” polemics.
But El Kadri still professes a politics of the most respectably leftish and progressive kind. He’s now running for Mayor of Ottawa.
Then there was the strange case of Waseem Ramli. You can terrorize Syrian refugees in Montreal by prowling around the city in a bright red Humvee with 1SYRIA custom licence plates and a rear window obscured by Syria’s Baathist flag and for good measure a side window covered with a giant portrait of Syrian mass murderer Bashar Assad, and hey, no worries.
Pop round to the Hôtel William Gray on Rue Saint Vincent for an intimate “armchair discussion” with Trudeau and local Liberal MP Marc Miller, won’t you? Thanks for your generous donation! And hey presto, Global Affairs has elevated you with credentials to establish yourself as Bashar Assad’s senior diplomat in North America.
After all, Ramli couldn’t be anything like, say, a fascist. Only white people are fascists, right? I made a nuisance of myself about that, too, causing Chrystia Freeland to put her foot down and insist that the Baathist fanboy proprietor of the Cocktail Hawaii restaurant over on Rue Maisonneuve would not be honoured with diplomatic credentials after all.
(You see, this is how I make friends.)
Anyway. earlier this summer there was another eruption along these same lines. Here’s the headline: “The Liberals are funding hate. How else to describe the speakers at this Toronto convention?” Good question. While much of the press gallery was still wringing its hands over rightist weirdos in trucks, Ahmed Hussen’s “anti-racism” money was going to an organization bringing together a roster of inspiratonal speakers, one of whom advocates the death penalty for homosexuality, and another who says it's OK to beat your wife, and another who says Christians who protect Jews from murderers are traitors.
The Muslim Association of Canada is explicitly devoted to the theocratic-fascist ideas of Hassan Albanna and the Muslim Brotherhood, grandpappy to the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas and more recently the movement that smothered Egyptian democracy in its cradle, in the bloody denouement to the Arab Spring.
And what was the federally-funded Canadian Anti-Hate Network up to at the time? Spending $269,000 from the federal cabinet on a teaching guide that counsels kids to rat on students who appear to be sympathetic to problematic politicians. The teaching guide names the Conservative Party as being susceptible to “infiltration” by racists, and warns the kids to be suspicious if they see the old Red Ensign, the flag under which a million Canadians fought and 44,090 of them died in the 20th century’s struggle against fascism.
I wish I could say this latest revelation, the one involving Laif Marouf, is just one of those embarrassing mistakes the Trudeau government is chronically prone to making. Like Heritage Canada’s $17,000 Covid emergency subsidy to Common Ground, a posh hippie wellness-and-dreamcatchers magazine that traffics in some of the weirdest Covid conspiracy theories in the crankosphere.
But that explanation is extremely difficult to defend. I’m no longer content to assume this sort of thing is a bug. I am increasingly inclined to sympathize with the proposition that it is a feature of the Trudeau government’s worldview, because it fits a disturbing pattern of what is either an unpardonable imbecility on matters of “racism” that afflicts the Trudeau government across the board, or something more sinister.
Yes, yes, Terry, but more about that motorbike of yours.
Okay, here you go.
Some useful readings concerning events of the past few days.
On the attempted assassination of Salman Rushdie:
Here’s Graeme Wood in The Atlantic.
The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the balls” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: Don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.
While high-profile attacks remain rare, simply locking up vocal dissidents is not: PEN’s Freedom To Write Index, which tracks the imprisonment of writers, academics, and public intellectuals, has seen a significant increase in recent years, with Myanmar, China, and Saudi Arabia topping the list of the worst offenders in 2021.
The stakes are similar in the world of journalism, where the number of members of the press in prison reached a record high last year, according to figures compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. China and Myanmar again top the list, with Egypt, Vietnam, and Belarus rounding out the top five.
Although 55 journalists were killed in 2021, the lowest number in a decade, that is unlikely to signal a trend—45 journalists have already been killed this year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, with a third of those deaths happening in Ukraine.
Far from ushering in a new era of free speech, large tech platforms are increasingly siding with repressive regimes as they seek market access in authoritarian states.
On shuttered newsrooms & conventional journalism’s collapse:
By the end of the twentieth century, the news media had reached the apex of their 500-year history. Even regional newspapers such as the Baltimore Sun possessed several well-staffed foreign bureaus. Never were the media as rich and influential as in their golden age, just 25 years ago. Plenty of journalists still on the job remember those glorious days. . . . The Internet broke this idyll. It turned out that the ad-based model relied not on the content attracting an affluent audience but on the monopoly over ad delivery that the Internet simply destroyed. The ad-based media business achieved power and prosperity over the course of 100 years; it collapsed in just ten.
On Ukraine, Taiwan, and the usual capitulationists.
Canada’s Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are the two weakest links in Ukraine’s Euro-American line of defence. They’re also the weakest leaders in the face of Beijing’s full-spectrum assault on the international liberal-democratic order.
Here’s Trudeau pipsqueaking on the prospects of a visit by Canadian parliamentarians to Taiwan. From Matthew Karnitsching, here’s what we could expect from the Germans if Beijing takes the west’s measure and decides it can get away with invading Taiwan:
With inflation high and energy prices showing no signs of falling, Germany can ill afford another hit to its flagging economy. Officials in Berlin acknowledge in private that Germany would not be able to endorse anything beyond token sanctions against China. That doesn’t mean there won’t be dramatic debates in Berlin over Germany’s latest moral quandary. Political talkshows will devote hours to the question and newspaper columnists will spill barrels of ink dissecting every angle. But in terms of substance, the Germans will offer the usual: nichts (nothing).
There. That should bide you over for the time being. Now for mercy’s sake, subscribe. One click. Here: