Michael Coren Smears Canadians For the Rule of Law
Michael Coren's "Exposing the Soft Power Behind Canada's Islamophobia Industry" caused some confusion and dismay when it was published last week in the ACT! for Canada Newsletter.
Why include an article harshly critical of the group 'Canadians For the Rule of Law', which in March held a national "Teach-In" in Toronto about threats to freedom by far-left and radical Islamic groups? In fact, Coren's article was included as an illustration of the eagerness with which concerns about Islamic extremism are dismissed and misrepresented in the mainstream press.
According to Coren, "We're in serious trouble when the narrative around anti-Islamic attitudes - and even violence - in Canada is being pushed by ostensibly reasonable people in the media, government and professional classes."
Whoa - violence? Islamophobia industry? Is Coren serious about these charges? Who was advocating violence at the conference? How were these purveyors of so-called "Islamophobia" leading people astray with a false "narrative"?
Coren doesn't say. His article is not really about the conference, and he tells us nothing that was said there; he doesn't even provide the titles of the panel presentations. He merely reports that some of the attendees are "controversial" and have been called "Islamophobic" by others with their own agendas. Coren's article exists to repeat the charge. It is not journalism, then, so much as gossip.
Long on smear and short on fact, the bulk of the article repeats without question or verification the self-serving claims of Jasmin Zine, a sociology professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and an Islamophobia expert who makes her comfortable six-figure salary by finding instances of Islamophobia. Surprise, surprise: she found one! Zine also testified before a Canadian parliamentary sub-committee in support of "anti-Islamophobia" Motion 103, and is a strong proponent both of the claim that Muslims are the victims of widespread discrimination in Canada and that anti-free-speech measures are necessary to combat it.
Zine claims that when she began to cause a disturbance at the conference, she was assaulted when a member of the audience "grabbed [her] and pulled [her] from the room." No charges have been laid, but Coren assures us that "police are investigating." It's not exactly a smoking gun, given that it is the duty of police officers to investigate reports of physical assault.
Coren doesn't quote from other members of the conference, who tell a very different story about Professor Zine's intervention, which allegedly involved deliberate disruption and prolonged bellowing. But such would not fit Coren's narrative about the "narrative" of these nefarious agents of Islamophobia.
Coren refers in his title to the Islamophobia "industry." The clear implication is that this is a group of people who manufacture something, creating it out of nothing or out of very little. Does Coren actually believe that all these people at the conference were motivated by an irrational dislike or fear of a benign religion? Does he actually believe that ordinary citizens and activists should be prevented from expressing their concerns about Islam's association with intolerance, crime, and terror?
Coren mentions indignantly that the conference took place just days after the Christchurch massacre of Muslims in New Zealand. What exactly is his point? As he well knows, Christian worshippers (or should I say Easter worshippers) have also been targeted for horrific violence in the recent past. Does he believe that all critics of Christianity should be hounded from polite society and effectively muzzled?
Obviously, the organizers of the Toronto event could not have known about the Christchurch massacre when they began planning their conference months before. Should they have cancelled their meeting? According to this same logic, Coren himself should heretofore cease criticism of any person or ideology lest his words provoke violence in someone who reads them.
Coren has come a long way from his old stance on free speech and controversy (as well as on many other subjects). But his writings remain useful if only as a clear illustration of the fashionable determination to smear all who speak out about totalitarian threats to freedom. All that is needed for Coren's allegations to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
With thanks to Janice Fiamengo