Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Dear Mr. President: A Question You Haven't Been Asked



Dear Mr. President,

You've held some press conferences, given some interviews, and you tweet a lot.

But I haven't heard this question asked of you, and given the latest of your bizarre comments, I'm wondering if you'll answer it for me:

Why did you want this job?

See, I ask because you've had a tough 6 months, and there's no sign of it letting up. Let's review:


That claim was refuted by many outlets, including the National Park Service, which released photos - 2 months later! - to prove that your claim was, indeed, false.

You had Spicer battle the press almost every day. Not just for that claim, but for others as well. I would list them, but they're too numerous for one post.


Do you really believe that? I mean, Ronald Reagan was shot. John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln were assassinated. Bill Clinton's sex life was dragged through the mud. Countless other politicians have been fodder for partisan press, but you believe you've topped the scales?

  • Your presidency has been overshadowed by the accusations of collusion with Russia to meddle in the election. Mr. President, there are reasons for that.

From the first day of your primary campaign, you took shots at every country, and every person. From leaders to your fellow candidates, you belittled, bullied, mocked, and maligned pretty much everyone we can name: except Vladimir Putin or Russia. You've refrained from saying a negative word about Russia, for over 2 years.

You even said the United States could be compared to Russia - in a baffling interview in which you refused to call Vladimir Putin a terrorist, and said, "Do you think our country's so innocent?" when asked to comment on Putin's known regime of killing.



  • You've stated that you didn't know healthcare was so complicated. Due respect, Sir, I've never held public office, but even I know that healthcare is a profoundly complex matter. And you've been fighting to get healthcare resolved for the entirety of your presidency so far, with no success. It makes you look weak, and it reflects badly on the party you have deeply divided.

  • You've made the baffling statement that you thought the job would be easier than your old life. Are you kidding me? Your old life consisted of living in your glamorous New York City tower, golfing all the time, hosting a reality television show, making deals, attending society events,  and spending time in your resorts at Mar-A-Lago in Florida and Bedminster, New Jersey.

And yet, you thought running the United States of America - dealing with every foreign power in the world, precarious situations in a time of war and terrorism, having to comport yourself with diplomatic dignity, making decisions that affect over 320,000,000 people in their everyday lives, balancing a budget for the entire country, fending off press that can be less than kind, and living in a virtual fishbowl 24/7/365 - would be easier than playing TV host and golf?

Clearly, you had no idea before you took the job - or after, either.


Chatting with some members before a recent round of golf, he explained his frequent appearances: "That White House is a real dump."

So, given your obvious unhappiness with the job, the people, the visibility, the restrictions, and even the People's House you were given to enjoy for the duration of your term, I ask you again:

Why did you want this job?

I have a theory. I believe you wanted to win. My theory is based on the fact that you have continued, for the past 6 months, to extol the virtues of your Electoral College win (even bragging to a crowd of Boy Scouts, whose Jamboree is supposed to be a non-political event, and who were not old enough to have cast a single vote).

My theory is, as well, based on your penchant to want to have the best, know the best, and ultimately  be The Best, in every single thing you discuss.

My theory is also based on the fact that you continue to hold rallies - ostensibly for the 2020 re-election campaign you are planning (despite the shambles in which your current term is). You have yet another rally planned for this week, going on as though you haven't lost your Press Secretary, Communications Director, and Chief of Staff all within the past 10 days. To be fair, in a stunning lack of self-awareness, you did summarize it as "a great day."

If you did want to win so badly, it was not the race to enter.

See, the Presidency is not a race to be won with election. It is not a race to the finish line. There is no gold medal.

The Presidency is a race that starts after the win. After those votes have been counted, victory has been declared, your opponent has conceded - that's when the race begins.

A race to establish a network of trusted individuals who will support and advise you.

A race to establish a relationship of trust between the American people and their soon-to-be new leader.

A race to formulate a detailed plan on how you will now carry out the promises you made, the promises that got you the job you were elected to do.

A race to plan everything, from the transition, to the first act as president, to the subsequent priorities you have laid out to your staff, your Cabinet, and the World.

The race begins in earnest after you have said those 35 sacred words in your oath of office, delivered your inaugural speech, and waved to the last of the crowd on the day of celebration.

The race begins after you've come back to your new home (dump or not) following the inaugural balls at which you have received the adoration of your followers.

The race begins on January 21st, the day after you have taken office, and you are now faced with the myriad balls to juggle for 4 years.

And the race does not end until you have left the presidency, boarded the plane to take you home, and return to your life as a private citizen.

I don't believe you had a firm grasp on that concept, Mr. Trump. I don't believe you had the slightest clue of what you were going to face when you first walked into the awe-inspiring Oval Office and sat behind that venerated desk to put your pen to your first order.

I don't believe you've ever worked with others you didn't domineer; Congress is not to be domineered. The men and women of Congress are your colleagues, and are to be your support network with whom you have to work to Get Things Done.

I don't believe you have ever had to answer to anyone but yourself, and now, you answer to over 320,000,000 Americans, countless world leaders, and citizens of Planet Earth, who are all affected by every action you take.

I don't believe you had any inkling that the race was not to be won in an election, but that your proverbial gold medal might be waiting at the end of your term, when history would judge you.

Some receive a shining gold medal of respect and admiration, success and historic acts.

Some never get any medal at all.

You are on a pathway to becoming a member of the latter group.

Only you can answer the question: why did you want this job?

And if you, as I suspect, wanted it for the wrong reasons?

Perhaps it's time to admit that you could win the election, but not the race, and cede your baton to the next guy to do better.

After all, wouldn't you be happier back in your old life, which was easier, and in which you lived in a palace, not a dump?



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Facebook Etiquette: Birthday Greetings

Google's Personal Birthday Doodle, linked to the date and significant occasions related to it)


Yesterday was my birthday. (There - it's out - you can feel guilty now, if you didn't acknowledge it)

As part of my Personal New Year resolution to create at least once a day (writing, and graphics), this entry is reflective of the Digital Age's birthday etiquette - the Facebook edition.

Birthdays, being online, can be really fun. I've received coupon offers valid for the week of my birthday, from restaurants, online book retailers, bars, places I've shopped. I've received Happy Birthday greetings from newsletters to which I subscribe, and even Google had an animated candlelit logo, linked to July 17 events, occasions, and historical facts.

On Twitter, all day long, anyone (including you) visiting your page is greeted with animated balloons drifting up to the top of the page:



And anyone who is on Facebook knows that the platform provides you with birthday notifications for your friends/contacts (or at least those who have entered their birth dates in their personal information, and made that information accessible to their friends).

Besides an actual notification alert you get (stating "it's so-and-so's birthday day, help her celebrate!", and leading you to the user's page), it also shows up on the right-hand side of your user interface, first notification in the sidebar. It lists the name(s) of birthdays, hyperlinked to the user's page to make it that much easier for you to click, and type out a wish.

And if one has forgotten, Facebook now sends you a notification letting you know it was someone's birthday yesterday, asking if you'd like to send belated greetings; this is done when a user hasn't clicked the Facebook link to do so on the day of - and yes, Facebook does keep close ties with your clicking and greeting habits.

It takes 30 seconds - unless, like so many people who go the extra mile, one chooses to write a more personal greeting, a special wish, or even include graphics. Some people find nice birthday art online and use that, some create their own (I do that for people with whom I'm close), and Facebook even provides videos from which you can choose the right one for your friend.

Now, there's no delusion in anyone's mind that, had Facebook not included this handy-dandy notification, these birthdays would still be acknowledged. In this day and age, with Facebook users who count their "friends" in the hundreds, it isn't expected that every birthday be remembered and acknowledged.

Family members need no notifications for birthdays (one would hope). Close friends are the same.

But for those people you've befriended whom you may never even meet face-to-face - or haven't yet, or those you've not seen for a long time, the platform allows you to make their day that much more special with an acknowledgment of it.

Now, since I became a Facebook user, I can honestly say that it does make the day that much more festive, when the greetings roll in. As I said, no delusion that someone I've never met, with whom I interact more casually than others, will actually remember my birthday without the social media prompt. But it's nice that they did take the time to type out the message, even if it's a simple "Happy Birthday!"

It's fun to wake to them (or, in my case, watch them roll in from my overseas friends for whom my birthday occurs before it does here in Eastern North America). It's fun to watch them come in during the day. It's even fun to look at my page and see "So-and-so and 75 others have written on your timeline to wish you a happy birthday".

It's special when those people who are more peripheral than others still take the time to type out a greeting. I had a few first-timers this year, and it made me smile, and appreciate them that much more.

I'm a big kid when it comes to my birthday. I love being the birthday girl, and I doubt that will ever change.

Technology, and especially social media, changes that for the better.

I've watched people whose birthdays are being acknowledged, and how they choose to acknowledge those greetings. I've done it a certain way, myself, for years. And it made me think about the etiquette of birthday greetings, online. So much so, in fact, that I decided to write this little observation of how it's done across the Internet.

Here are the ways in which Facebook users can - and do - acknowledge the greetings they receive. There's no right or wrong way (except the obvious):

  • A collective acknowledgment the day after
  • A collective acknowledgment the day of
  • Individual thanks
  • No acknowledgment
  • Any combination of the aforementioned 

Collective Acknowledgment - Day After: 

 

This is when the birthday person wakes the next day, and posts - either first thing in the morning, or mid-morning - something along the lines of:

"I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to wish me a happy birthday yesterday. It was very apprecicated!"

Nothing wrong with that; it does the job. It also does the job of guilting those who did NOT take the time, and shaking them loose, in a flurry of "Oh no, I missed your birthday! Happy belated!" type posts.

(Note: there have been days that have gotten away from me, days in which I have not acknowledged the birthdays of those people in my life, and I have been known to be one of those guilt-ridden belated-greeters tacked onto a Collective Acknowledgment; it happens to us all)

Collective Acknowledgment - Day Of: 

 

This gets tricky. I've seen people post halfway through the day, which may just mean they're enjoying the greetings so much, they want people to know it.

It also serves as a "shake 'em loose" tool, for those who have not yet added to the chorus of greetings.

The problem with that is that many people don't check their alerts or notifications until later in the day, or even in the evening; as well, time differences are not accounted for.

As a result, those who post their greetings (which were likely planned for the time of day they were better able to take care of them) look as though they've been guilted into posting, or are just following the crowd.

I've been known to be unable to post greetings First Thing In The Morning, and when I see those collective acknowledgments, I will include, "I'm not posting because you wanted to remind everyone - I always planned to wish you a happy day" in my personal birthday wish." (I usually include an emoji to indicate that fact, something with a tongue sticking out or a winky-face)

(It doesn't take away from the nagging worry that said birthday celebrant may believe I did so grudgingly because s/he posted a big "It's my birthday and OTHER people have ALREADY wished me a happy one" update; yes, I stress that way)

In terms of etiquette, the celebrant must also take care to follow some informal guidelines so as not to make their entire Friends' List feel badly.

(Of course, there are still those who never post the birthday wishes, regardless of the Reminder Thanks broadcasts halfway through or day after; they're hopeless and need no acknowledgment of their boorish neglect) 

Individual Thanks (Anytime)

 

This is my preferred method. It takes very little extra time to type out my thanks to each one who's taken their time to wish me a happy birthday. For some, it's a simple "thank you", for others, it's a more personal acknowledgment which inspires a follow-up post (example: "thank you so much! How are things with you?").

I enjoy greeting each one individually. It's like opening presents. You don't usually open your gifts and send a mass email to everyone who gave you one ("just want to send this to thank everyone for the gifts you gave me for my birthday/wedding/anniversary/baby! I love them all!").

Whether you're opening gifts at your party, or afterwards, the etiquette is to send thank-you notes to everyone who gave you something for your special occasion.

That's why I do the individual thanks. It feels more personal, makes it more festive, gets my acknowledgments done on the spot, and doesn't guilt anyone the next day (though, if you read on, there are ways to acknowledge the non-acknowledgers).

And when friends have done the same, on their birthdays, it's really nice to get an individual acknowledgment back as well.

No Acknowledgment

 

Goes without saying - this is just rude.

Combination Of Any Of These

 

Some people choose to do any or all of these. Keep in mind, you're influencing behavior if you post a collective note, whether it's halfway through your birthday, the next day, or even the day after that. But it definitely beats no acknowledgment at all.

Facebook has put in a new feature: the day after one's birthday, you get a video that sums up some of the greetings you got. It's a pretty tower cake, whose decorations become windows opening to some of the messages you received the day before. It's always nice to see the more personalized ones highlighted but if not, Facebook allows you to edit your own video (so you can include those longer, more personal wishes over the simple - but always appreciated - "Happy Birthday" posts).

This serves as a nice Collective Acknowledgment - Day After tool. You can hit "share", write something to introduce it, or write nothing at all.

And as always, the Day-After post of thanks will invariably bring people out of the woodwork to acknowledge you belatedly.

If I seem judgmental in any of the things I have outlined here, don't worry - I'm not. These are observations, some tongue-in-cheek, and could - perhaps - serve as a guideline for others. Whether you are celebrating (and being Facebook Celebrated), or reaching out to others who are, you may choose to turn to this post as one person's take on Facebook Birthday Etiquette.

If you're wondering how to properly do Passive-Aggressive Facebook Birthday Acknowledgment?

Here's how I posted my Day-After birthday video.


(Never said I didn't have some of the snark within)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rebel Media/Fox News's Gavin McInnes Must Face Consequences For His Anti-Semitic Rantings



Recently, one of the founders of The Rebel - an online, conservative media outlet formed when Sun News folded in Canada - took several other contributors and went to Israel on a "fact-finding mission". Ezra Levant, Faith Goldy, Sheila Gunn Reid, and Gavin McInnes went to Israel to report on everything from "the Israeli security fence, to Israel's border with Syria, and even the settlements in the West Bank."

What has emerged from the trip - namely from one of its participants - is nothing short of horrifying.

Gavin McInnes - described, in his Wikipedia entry, as "an English-Canadian writer, actor, comedian" and who appears frequently on Fox News, and The Blaze - both conservative media outlets in the USA - is a regular contributor to The Rebel. He has a show that airs four times weekly, and is accessible only through the "premium" content on the site (paid members only).

Up until now, I have seen some of his videos, and watched him in reports, and he's seemed fairly innocuous in his humor and reports.

But a report emerged, from a website called Canadaland, an audience-funded site and podcast, and whose goals are self-described as: "our primary focus is on media criticism and media reporting."

(I believe, in this day and age of blogging and journalism blurring lines, it's important to have media watchdogs. How they are policed is another story altogether.)

The report is called "We Watched Gavin McInnes's Full Anti-Semitic Rant So You Don't Have To". The author of the article in question is Jonathan Goldsbie,

Goldsbie paid the $6.95 USD in order to watch the full video. The reason he did so was that McInnes released a clip in which he made some very inflammatory statements including:
  • I'm becoming an anti-Semite;
  • A "clarification" of Holocaust denials: "...the Yad Vashem tour guide goes, 'you know, and there are people who think that this didn't happen.' And I felt myself defending the super-far-right Nazis, just because I was sick of so much brainwashing. And I felt like going, 'well, they never said it didn't happen. What they're saying is that it was much less than six million and that they starved to death and they weren't gassed.'" 
He also states how "obsessed" Jews are with the Holocaust adding, "I don't know if it's healthy to dwell."

When two well-known KKK/Neo-Nazi activists (David Duke, and Richard Spencer) tweeted their support for McInnes, McInnes struck back. He put out a quick video explaining that the released clip - in which he does, actually, state, not to take this out of context - was taken out of context. He even goes so far as to tell the two alt-right men that he doesn't like Nazis - "I like Jews."

When Goldsbie saw that, he paid to watch the entire video to see if, perhaps, McInnes was just - as he defensively stated - repeating the common attitudes of neo-Nazis and if the context were different.

What Goldsbie found was far worse. The almost-hour-long video was filled with McInnes's own views about Jews, other racist comments - about Asian women, for example (too offensive to reproduce here), and generalizing about Jews in ways that reveal a deeply prejudiced attitude this man holds against the Jewish people.

It's offensive, it's profoundly disturbing, and even the excerpts in Goldsbie's article made me physically ill. And as Goldsbie concluded, there were more atrocious statements even he could not reproduce in his report.

To add to this already-sickening report, when McInnes first put out the video, he titled it "10 Things I Hate About Jews."

He tweeted out the link (I have whited out the profanity):


Shortly thereafter, Ezra Levant retweeted The Rebel's official account (which had tweeted out the link, without McInnes's colorful editorializing).



The name of the video was changed in the link - but not, as Jesse Brown reported, in the video.



We fight, every single day, against those whose attitudes range from ignorant to outright anti-Semitic. We fight against those who deny the Holocaust, question what happened and how it happened, and even in the face of overwhelming proof, still insist that six million Jews were not exterminated in death camps.

Why are we now fighting a purported pro-Israel media outlet whose very founder is Jewish, and whose conservative ideals are supposed to support Israel, her people, her history, and the Jewish people worldwide?

Why is this going unchecked, after having been posted on March 8th, and has not been questioned?

Perhaps it is because there are many who would speak up but who don't pay the premium membership in order to gain access to such "premium content" as McInnes's hate speech.

Perhaps it is because too many people do not speak up.

But I do.

And now that it is public, now that we have a report from someone who has watched it, it has to be addressed. 

I call upon Brian Lilley, Ezra Levant, Faith Goldy, Sheila Gunn Reid, Mitch Wolfe - and any other Rebel contributors - to denounce McInnes. To make the video free to the public so that he can be judged on the merits of his hatred. To leave it up with a disclaimer that its contents are profoundly offensive and should not be taken as endorsed by The Rebel or anyone associated with it.

I call upon The Rebel to suspend - or better yet, fire - Gavin McInnes. He has revealed a side of himself that cannot be unseen, that cannot be discounted, and that must be addressed.

There should be an apology issued by the site, McInnes, and a statement made by the founders of The Rebel, to at least attempt to assuage the concerns of Jews who see this as yet another alt-right attempt to discredit Holocaust survivors, victims, their families, and the State of Israel - not to mention Jews worldwide.

I call upon members of The Rebel Media, and donors, to stand up and address this loudly. Do you support McInnes's anti-Semitism? If you don't, do you feel good about being a member of their site, paying for him to peddle his hate speech?

This cannot be left to fade away. It is now out there, and should be addressed.

If readers would like to contact the above, the links lead to their Facebook pages. You can also get in touch via Twitter:


Perhaps if enough people let them know how deeply upsetting this is, they will act.

Perhaps if enough members withdraw their donations and memberships, they will learn to address this head-on. Levant not only knew about it - he and their main Twitter account re-tweeted in order to disseminate the link.

If it is only clicks they care about, they've done well. If it is their integrity? They have fallen tragically far from the mark.

My next move will be to write Fox, and The Blaze, to alert them to this latest. They deserve to know, as both outlets purport to be pro-Israel as well.

I encourage you all to do the same.

We cannot stand by and allow anyone to disparage the memories of Holocaust victims, the dignity of the survivors, or the well-being of Jewish people everywhere. Clearly, we need to hold media outlets to that standard - and more.

The bell has been rung. Your move, Rebel Media.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Friendship And Loss - A Tribute To Lloyd



I turn to words more often than not, when my heart needs to express something that cannot be contained.

Tonight, I am writing in tribute and sorrow - because my friend, Lloyd, passed away yesterday. I only found out about it a couple of hours ago, and am still processing the shock.

Lloyd and I "met" through Facebook. He and I had a mutual friend (who, oddly, blocked me in a disagreement but to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for the introduction).

Lloyd and I immediately saw the things we shared: love of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team (even though he was American, he was a McGill University graduate and loved our hockey team as much as our city), political views, a deep respect for words and language, and the fun of wit and wisdom.

We became friends some years ago - and shortly thereafter, he recruited me into a group for people who love language, and cringe at the prevalent grammatical errors we see, especially on social media.

The group became a second home for me online. Whenever I've seen an egregious error in language (whether it's odd spelling, grammatical crime, play on words, or the like), I've been able to go into this group and share it.

I've "met" some great people through the group, as well as through Lloyd, and we found that we had several other friends in common as well.

His love for animals was another thing we shared; Lloyd had rescued his beloved husky, Mikko, not too long after we became friends, and he and I would talk about our dogs all the time. He rescued another husky - and I am still honored that he gave my name as a reference to the rescue shelter.

Lloyd's wicked sense of humor could always be counted upon for a smile, even in times of strife. When our Canadian election went the way it did, knowing how deeply it affected me, he posted an online countdown to the next election.

Lloyd was known for his countdown posts. After Donald Trump was elected - not even in office yet! - Lloyd posted a countdown to the next election.

He posted countdowns to Spring, Winter, Christmas - name it, he counted it down. And he would begin the countdown the day after the event had passed (there were always 364 days left to Christmas on December 26th).

His birthday - the day after mine - will be an empty one this year.

On New Year's day, I messaged him to wish him a Happy New Year. He'd been looking for work, and found it just recently. In my message, I told him that this would be the year his dream job happened. He said "amen" to that, and said that 2017 would be the year we would finally meet face-to-face.

He used to live just across the border, in upstate New York (till some months back, when he took a job in NJ), and I so regret not being able to see him the one time I knew he had visited the city.

But we can't have regrets in life; and I know I'm not alone - I've seen many of his friends say this on Facebook tonight - when I say Lloyd would probably want us to make some really twisted joke right now.

I hope he'll forgive me for not being able to do that. I'm still processing this news, as I know everyone else is as well.

I do NOT regret having always thanked him for his friendship, for making me smile, for posting something that would make me laugh out loud, for his support, and for just being there. I'm glad I am the type of person to be candid and honest like that; it makes me hopeful that Lloyd knew just how appreciated he was.

I had to post, when I found out, on Facebook - because so many of my friends had come to know Lloyd for his wit, his principles, his humor, and his friendly self. And in my post I mentioned that he and I had never met.

My cousin, Nancy, offered these wise words:

A friend is not a friend defined how you met. But how that person made you feel, how that friend was there to listen. There is no need to qualify how the circumstances of meeting. The loss is felt no matter what.

She's right, of course. I experienced this already - some years back, when my friend Bill passed away, never having met him either, but having so much that we shared as well.

It will sink in, as time goes on and Lloyd isn't around to hit the "like" button or the "angry face" emoji on my posts (likes for the fun stuff, angry face for the not-so-great stuff - he did like to emote). It will sink in when he doesn't count down to the next event or occasion, and especially when I cannot share the wordplay as I have so enjoyed doing all these years.

This loss will be felt for a long time to come - because he was almost as prolific as I, on my Facebook page. I could always count on Lloyd to be there with a comment.

Lloyd always acknowledged my posts. Whether it was a single word reply, a whole paragraph or two, a "like", or an emoji, Lloyd was always one of - if not THE first to acknowledge my posts. He acknowledged them, and thus - he acknowledged me. The quiet will be conspicuous, deafening, and a large gap in my online presence.

His sons will miss him the most, and to them, I offer my deepest condolences, and wish that Lloyd's memory be a blessing to them always.

Thank you for letting me pay tribute to Lloyd's memory - he deserves the accolades. There was nothing negative about Lloyd Olsson.

Sail on, my friend. Smooth waters.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Prime Minister Trudeau Remains Silent On McGill Student's Hate Speech



It's been a week since a McGill Student representative's tweet came to light. Asking his followers to "punch a Zionist today", Igor Sadikov has since deleted his Twitter account - but not much else. He doubled down on his remarks a day after a non-apology, and remains in his position of representing students.

His decision to remain as student rep is unfathomable. And yet, at a meeting of the SSMU (Students' Society of McGill University), he was confronted by students who wanted to know how their safety will be protected now that the story has gone wider.

Molly Harris posted publicly, on her Facebook page, exactly what happened in that meeting. Her post begins with the words: "I have never felt so targeted, disgusted, or disappointed in my life."

She goes on to describe what was said in that meeting, and what Sadikov said about Jews ("it is contested that Jews are an ethno-religious group.”. What is more disturbing is how he was greeted with cheers and applause from other students.

I urge you to read this young woman's statement - it is chilling that in this day and age, we are facing a threat whose author is so exposed, so identified - and so untouched by any hand of justice whatsoever.

Deleting his Twitter account? Issuing a non-apology in which he shamelessly tried to invoke his "Jewish heritage"?

Not good enough.

Just this past Monday, the SSMU voted - and rejected - the motion calling on Sadikov to resign from the student union. The motion was rejected in a 5-4 vote. Democracy at work, folks, but where's the justice?

Here's my bigger question: where are the adults in this situation?

In the past few days, a friend and I have been seeking adults to take some sort of stand on the matter. Jewish organizations like B'nai Brith and CIJA are on this case, and working to see what can be done so that students at McGill - and other Universities - can feel safe.

But where is the government?

Canada's former ambassador to Israel, Vivian Bercovici, posted this on her Facebook wall:

The student activist/hater McGill University student who tweeted recently, exhorting fellow haters to “punch a zionist today” continues to dig his hole. He tries to explain his incitement to violence as an expression of his distaste for Zionism. In other words, he opposes the existence of a Jewish state. But – he somehow understands this as being all about peace, love and anti-colonialism and not hatred or anti-semitism.
On the latter point, he invokes his own Jewish heritage. Shameless, disingenuous and downright disgusting. The fact that he is Jewish does not validate his uninformed and hate-filled views. The conspiracy theories espoused by Alice Walker are not more credible because she is American. This nasty piece of work, Mr. Sadikov, is a coward. He deleted the tweet that drew so much attention, and now says that he has not decided whether or not to resign from student government.
That someone so openly hate-filled and violent even has the option to continue screams out for a review of student governance policies. I’m also wondering……where is my Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? He – or one of his high profile Cabinet members – is usually quick to pounce on such disgraceful conduct and condemn it. Jews, Israelis and Zionists are living in a highly toxic environment. Why the silence from Ottawa? Why is this a non-event?
Just this week, Anthony Housefather - Liberal MP - posted this statement on behalf of him and colleague Michael Levitt:


MPP Gila Martow, representing the Thornhill district of Ontario (the largest Jewish community in Canada) released this statement:


These statements are important because those with a platform can use their voices to raise awareness, and provoke action.

I must echo Ambassador Bercovici, who asks, where is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

We have seen PM Trudeau address other incidents - from the tragic, to the expressions of hate.

For example: following the Paris attacks in November of 2015, Trudeau dealt with the sharp uptick in hate crimes against Canadian mosques. Mosques were vandalized, anti-Muslim graffiti was spray-painted on an apartment complex wall, and a Muslim woman was the target of racial slurs, her hijab tugged by the attackers. Serious enough to be criminal, but no serious bodily harm committed. And certainly, unacceptable.

He swiftly condemned those attacks within a day of their occurrence, stating:

"Diversity is Canada's strength. These vicious and senseless acts of intolerance have no place in our country and run absolutely contrary to Canadian values of pluralism and acceptance."
Trudeau also vowed that his government and police would work to protect the victims' rights, and urged Canadians to focus on unity in the face of global terrorism threats.
"Our focus must be on stopping the people responsible for the terror, and continuing to fight hate by embracing Canadian values," he said.
That is as it should be. A Prime Minister should speak up when the citizens of the country he runs are threatened in any way, and in the face of hate speech, condemn those acts.

Yet, it's been a week since a student in the Prime Minister's home town - at the Prime Minister's alma mater and faculty (he holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill) - has called for violence against Zionists, and there is no statement whatsoever from him.

 One must ask, why not? Is this not enough of a story for him to comment on, when it's been covered and spread internationally? Is this not enough of a story because there's been nobody directly affected (or so he may believe) by the tweet? Or is this not enough of a story because the Jewish community is involved?

I despise rushing to judgment, but this Prime Minister hastens to comment on anti-Muslim rhetoric, and is currently drafting a motion that would make Islamophobia a crime. Motion M-103 condemns Islamophobia, but fails to mention other religious groups.

Considering the fact that Jews are the victims of religiously motivated hate crimes more often than any other religious group in Canada, this shows a definitive lack of inclusiveness in condemning ALL hate crimes.

Statistics Canada - Table Data Specified; Click To Enlarge

For a Prime Minister to be faced with this kind of story taking place over a week, with a continued atmosphere of fear and tensions on campus - spreading to other universities, no doubt - and say nothing?

It is not acceptable, not for a leader who is supposed to be the leader of all Canadians, not just one segment of the country.

McGill University likely wishes this issue would fade away. After all, the tweet was deleted, the Twitter account is gone, an "apology" was issued, and nobody has gotten punched (yet). 

Those of us incensed that this student is still an official representative, let alone still a student at McGill where his hate speech can be surreptitiously spread by him and his minions, will not let it go.

Those of us who want to see him expelled - and at the very least forced to resign his position - will not let it go.

Those of us who read of a student's traumatic experience at a SSMU meeting, where Sadikov spoke, and his supporters targeted dissenters, will not let it go.

Those of us who want our elected officials to speak up, to pressure not just the University but the leader of our country, to denounce, and act upon this egregious hate speech, will not let it go.

If you are a student at McGill, a recent graduate, an alumnus, or even a parent of one, it would be a good time to let Suzanne Fortier know how you feel. She is the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, and her email address is suzanne.fortier@mcgill.ca.

The more emails she gets, the harder it will be for her to ignore it. 

I also urge everyone to write your MP to ask for a strong statement. The two statements above are excellent examples of elected officials recognizing the problem and doing something about it - even if it is just to speak up.

But we need more.

Find your MP on this site, and if you don't know who it is, you can search by your address.

All you need to do is send a simple email, referencing the story (B'nai Brith Canada published a story last Friday, in which the student doubled down on his hate speech), stating your outrage over his continued tenure as student and student rep, and asking for a formal statement - as well as perhaps asking the MP to introduce a motion to get a formal statement from Prime Minister Trudeau.

It starts with voices. Our voices.

Please join us.

Friday, February 10, 2017

McGill Student Rep Not Backing Down



In a newsletter I received from B'nai Brith, it has come to light that Igor Sadikov - about whom I wrote last night - has doubled down on his hatred, and has been contacted on social media by willing participants to his violence.

From the newsletter:


Igor Sadikov continues to spread anti-Jewish falsehoods, even after his tweet calling on his followers to “punch a Zionist” was exposed by B’nai Brith Canada Thursday. The report sparked a media firestorm.
Sadikov, clearly an unrepentant member of the Legislative Council and Board of Directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), issued a statement defending his tweet as “opposition to the adherents of a political philosophy,” but “not an attack against Jewish students,” citing his own “Jewish heritage”. According to Jewish students at McGill who have known Sadikov for years, he has never before publicly identified himself as Jewish or claimed any Jewish background.
Disturbingly, in the space below his “apology” on Facebook, Sadikov “liked” a comment from someone else, promising that “I can punch one for you if your position does not allow you to.” The “like” took place about seven hours after he made his so-called “apology.”

The screenshot:


Students have reported to B’nai Brith that, in a tense meeting of the SSMU Legislative Council last night, Sadikov refused to promptly resign, arguing that Jews do not constitute a legitimate ethnic group and that there is no historical connection between the Jewish People and the Levant. A motion to censure Sadikov for his comments failed by a large margin.
Later in the meeting, a member of McGill’s BDS Action Network demanded that Jasmine Segal, a Jewish member of the Legislative Council, be impeached for “supporting Zionism.” While Segal was not impeached, the President of SSMU and other Council members refused to speak in her defence.
Segal told B’nai Brith that, “A university’s purpose is to promote a free exchange of ideas and thought - it does not matter what you believe or support. The only exception is that there can be no support for violence as a tool to suppress another person's free speech. I had approached the President of SSMU in near tears, explaining my position, and was told that I would hear an apology and a public statement in the meeting. No apology was ever delivered. I am worried for students who are now scared to be a part of student government because of what happened to me today.”
Meanwhile, McGill itself condemned Sadikov’s remarks, saying in a statement, “We believe that they violate a number of our policies” and that “appropriate offices are taking action as required.”
“B’nai Brith Canada is disgusted by the response of SSMU, which allowed the escalation of attacks against Jewish students at McGill,” said Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of the organization. “We have written to both SSMU and the administration, and our Quebec office filed a complaint to police (Thursday) about this matter.
“I cannot stress enough how appalled we are by what’s transpired in the past 48 hours. Rather than condemning Sadikov and distancing SSMU from his offensive position, it has chosen to remain silent about discrimination and incitement to violence toward its Jewish constituents. The McGill administration must move quickly to protect its own elected representatives.”
For more information contact:
Marty York
Chief Media Officer
marty.york@bnaibrith.ca
416-633-6224 x163
or
Daniel Koren
Media Coordinator
daniel.koren@bnaibrith.ca
416-633-6224 x172

As pointed out by a good friend, someone who is deeply knowledgeable about these issues, Sadikov should be charged under the Criminal Code, Section 319 as follows:

Public incitement of hatred
  •  (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of
    • (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
    • (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
  • Marginal note:Wilful promotion of hatred
    (2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of
    • (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
    • (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Meanwhile, I have forwarded last night's piece to various outlets, including B'nai Brith (the two gentlemen whose contact information is above) and have tweeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to disavow this student.

Of course, Trudeau has yet to disavow the Quebec Imam who prays daily for the annihilation of the Jews. So I'm expecting nothing.

But others ARE speaking up. And this revelation that Sadikov has continued his crusade, even after his "apology" is alarming, to the point where I believe criminal charges MUST be filed.

Please share your thoughts. And speak up.

We must not allow hatred to continue as a result of silence.


Montreal's McGill University Must Expel Anti-Semitic Student Rep

Photo:Paul Lowry, Flickr


Montreal is a city rich with educational institutions. One such venerable university, McGill University, is what many consider to be Montreal's "Ivy League University".

McGill has had its share, recently, of problems with the Jewish community. In February of 2016, almost 60% of those who voted supported the adoption of the BDS movement, a movement that encourages consumers to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction companies profiting from Israeli manufacturing.

The movement has been in existence since 2005, and has faced pushback from the International community - Jewish and non-Jewish organizations alike.

Though they may claim their mission is to help the Palestinian people allegedly "oppressed" by Israel, the very nature of the movement is not to help others, but to punish Israel. This piece very deftly explains why the BDS movement is one of hate, and is not pro-Palestinian.

The McGill vote represented only 3% of the 30,000 students at the University, and when presented for ratification just a few days later, it was struck down 57%-43% (with 6% abstaining).

That left a stain on McGill's reputation, but with the University's denouncement of the movement in the days that followed, things seemed to right themselves again over the past 12 months.

Until now.

On Thursday, February 9, 2017, it came to light that a McGill student representative, in the faculty of arts, had tweeted, urging his followers to "punch a Zionist today." Igor Sadikov tweeted it Monday, but it only became known on Thursday.

The tweet - now deleted - looked like this:



The word spread swiftly, through social media, and there were immediate calls denouncing it - and the student.

B'nai Brith, and CIJA - the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs - called for the student to resign, stating that not only was the tweet anti-Semitic, but called for violence as well.

Sadikov released a statement justifying his tweet - but how such a thing can be justified is beyond me. His statement reads:



Unacceptable.

See, he - and others who support his point of view - may see Zionists as separate from Jews, but that is a fallacy. Yes, there are non-Jewish Zionists, and there are Jews who are not Zionists. The definition of a Zionist is - from the Jewish Virtual Library:

Its general definition means the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. 

It's truly difficult to justify "punch a Zionist" as anything but anti-Semitic, especially given his expanded explanation. It is thinly veiled anti-Semitism.

Those of us who support Israel, and stand up for her right to exist, also recognize that there has never been a Palestinian State, and rather than go into the why's and wherefores of the conflict that spawned the BDS movement, I will refer you to this short video:



While I have been very outspoken about my love for Israel, and my support of the policies that govern the land in the name of security and safety, that's not what I'm here to do at this time.

This piece addresses the danger, and the infuriating sentiment expressed by Sadikov - and supported by those with the same thoughts.

First of all, he is a student representative - elected to that role by fellow students. Imagine how many of them are Jewish, and had no idea he harbored this kind of hatred.

A report on the incident, in The Algemeiner, states this:

According to Canadian human rights organization B’nai Brith Canada, Sadikov is a prominent supporter of the BDS movement at McGill. He is also the former news editor of The McGill Daily, which, as The Algemeiner reported, openly admitted to censoring pro-Israel content on the grounds that Zionism is a product of “settler colonial ideology.”

Secondly, he is advocating for violence (and his weak justification "I do not condone nor justify violence on the basis of membership in any identity group" belies that). This puts Jewish students in danger, but it goes further.

If this student is allowed to stay at the University, given his initial tweet and suggested action against Jews, it sends a very strong message to ALL who discriminate based on identity in any group.

This puts all students at risk: visible minorities, disabled, LGBTQ, students who speak different languages - or even just French or just English - or even those who are perceived as different from the attacker. Bullies need no reason to target others; intolerant hate-filled individuals go beyond that: their reasons are differences of others, based on identity.

The precedent it sets, should he be allowed to stay, is treacherous for all students not only at McGill University, but anywhere, any level institution, any city, any province, and yes, any country where hate speech is allowed to flourish unpunished.

Note: there is a difference between free speech and hate speech. This is a textbook example of hate speech, which is never to be allowed, and can be prosecuted.

McGill University is an internationally renowned institution. Its international-student body is extensive (roughly one-third of enrolment is international, according to the registration statistics as of Fall 2016):


What would happen, should potential students in the international community were to find out that a known anti-Semite, elected to be a student rep, and remaining untouched by the University itself, is encouraging the rest of the student body to punch Zionists? (And I don't care if the tweet has been deleted, it's out there and has been publicized - the damage is done)

What would happen, should parents/family members in the international community, with students already at McGill University, were to hear that a known hater was allowed to stay, not only harboring hateful thoughts toward those with whom he disagrees, but encouraging violence - and most likely continuing those thoughts among friends and like-minded classmates?

McGill University would lose a great deal of its income, should that happen. Who knows? It may already be happening, with this incident being reported throughout Canada, the USA, Israel, and other countries.

Sadikov has angered an untold number of people, Jews and non-Jews alike. If anyone is not enraged by his tweet, and his attitude, I would urge them to ask themselves why (that is, if they don't already know it is because they agree with him).

History is a perfect, effective guideline for us to use to inform our actions. It may not have been during Sadikov's lifetime - it wasn't during mine - but it was not too long ago that Jews in Eastern Europe were attacked in this very same manner.

Note: I do not invoke comparisons to Nazi Germany casually. I recognize the profound depths of horror that period in history represents, but it's an apt comparison to draw here. Not only because of 1930s Nazism, but because there are anti-Semites who are continuing to perpetuate their hatred even today.

There was no Internet then, but there was media, and there were posters, songs, jingles, and directives from Nazi Germany to perpetrate violence upon Jews. 

Nazi Germany, led by Hitler, and the implementation of  "The Final Solution" to exterminate the Jewish people, was a place and time of hatred, based on identity. There are many, many stories of Jews being accosted in the streets, Jewish men being subjected to scissors cutting off their beards and hair, for purposes of humiliation as well as stripping them of their identity. There are many stories of Jews being tormented en masse, unable to fight back for fear of being killed - because those humiliating them were armed, and sanctioned by Hitler's government.

Jews were subjected to hatred borne by those who needed very little in the way of a reason in order to harm, or kill them. 

And now, Jewish students - Zionists or not - are being subjected to the very real possibility of violence against them, encouraged by a member of the student body who has been elected to represent the students in the faculty of arts.

In fact, the law student who brought the tweet to the public eye (Simon Paransky) stated, in an interview:

“It’s appalling that a student representative is calling for violence against a certain group of people,” Paransky said. “And it is not an isolated incident. It is happening in a context of increased hostility to students on campus, mostly students of Jewish faith but also students of non-Jewish faith who are allies of Jewish students.”

How is the person who unleashed this upon the student community at McGill University being allowed to stay on at the school?

There are many of us, mobilizing to protest this student's existence at McGill. We are protesting his continued status as student rep, and as student at all. We are calling upon McGill University to expel him, or - as the most recent reports say - force his resignation. 

If he is allowed to stay, I hope the community - local, and international - will govern themselves accordingly. Funding should be stopped. Enrolment should be stopped, and perhaps transfers out of McGill become the norm.

Sadly, it is only the threat of financial loss - and/or negative publicity - that will force the hand of the University.

This is not going away. Nor should it. We should ALL be speaking up, we should ALL be railing against the tolerance of violent rhetoric, anti-Semitism, and hatred condoned by an internationally renowned institution of higher education.

Because today it is anti-Semitism - tomorrow it could be any of a number of other groups targeted for violence and hatred.

And the way I see it, if McGill does nothing about this, they are condoning - perhaps even endorsing - the call for violence, and should be consequenced accordingly.

One last note: where is Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau? This story has been circulating for almost 24 hours, and he has always been quick to condemn violence against Muslims, but seemingly silent when Jews have been involved.

As the leader of our country, as a Montrealer himself, he should be speaking up, condemning the student, and adding to the pressure upon McGill to expel Sadikov permanently.

Along with our call to protest McGill's harboring of an anti-Semitic student rep, we call upon the Prime Minister to speak up against this student and join us in our urging McGill University to act.

Folks, not everyone is an activist. Some people just prefer to stay out of it, and disengage while harboring their own private thoughts. 

But even if you disavow this student and what he stands for, in your thoughts, it is not enough. If we all remain silent, what can change? Silence can be deadly.

I will end with the wise words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

If you are as incensed as so many of us are, please speak up. Share this article. Talk about it with your family, friends, kids, parents. Let McGill University know that you do not support their permitting Igor Sadikov to remain on campus, much less a student representative.

You are speaking up for this situation, but you are also investing in the future of humanity - one person at a time.

Will you join us?