Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sun TV, Ezra Levant and Why the Danish Cartoons Matter

Ezra Levant, long time neocon insider and self-proclaimed stockaholic (one of 3 Stockwell Day fans), is among the bombastic characters on Fox News North (Sun TV).

He used to run a small magazine (now out of business), where he published the infamous Danish cartoons, knowing, or at least hoping, that they would cause a stir.

He has gotten so much mileage out of those cartoons with Canada's right-wing, that he chose that as the topic for his debut performance on Sun TV, and in his best helium induced squeal, cried about "freedom of speech" and his rights as a Canadian.

Of course, as always, the subtext is Muslim.

In 2007, Harper MPs Brad Trost and Andrew Scheer (now Speaker of the House), went after CBC for plans to air an independent satire The Altar Boy Gang.

And just as Ezra spoke of being hauled in front of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, these two MPs wanted CBC to be hauled before a Parliamentary committee.
TWO Conservative Members of Parliament will seek to have the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) answer to a House of Commons committee for a television program the Catholic Civil Rights League has described as blasphemous.
So where was Levant's high-pitched squeal then? Suppression of free speech in Canada in the 21st century. Censorship akin to that of China.

CBC promised not to air the series, despite the fact that it was highly unlikely that it would result in hate crimes against altar boys. Or hate crimes against anyone.

But it was deemed 'sacrileges'. So why not the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammad in unflattering frames? Why were they not deemed 'sacrileges'?

Without actually lying, Levant also misinforms his viewers, by stating that the protests resulted in 200 murders. The "murders" were of protesters, when police opened fire on them. An important point, because without that background we might assume that the protesters, or "terrorists", murdered innocent Danes.

I had initially planned to ignore Sun TV, but after being sent several clips by my right-wing readers, I decided that it would be wrong of me to do so.

They need to be exposed.

One follower said "He's completely right... Since when did freedom of speech become a Conservative cross to bear? I thought that liberals were all about freedom of speech... What interesting times we live in when Conservatives are more liberal than Liberals...",and another: "Long live the freedom to have an alternative to CBC!"

I might agree if the conservatives actually believed in "free speech", but they don't. They've brought in a censorship bill with the help of Jim Flaherty's pal Charles McVety, and Flaherty will now only fund art projects and cultural events, deemed "inoffensive".

And what does the Liberal Party have to do with this? I think they mostly ignore Levant. He's such a silly little man.

Silly but Dangerous

In the 1920s in Germany, another silly little man, Julius Streicher, created a newspaper Der Stürmer, to combat what was deemed a liberal press. Anti-semitism had been around for centuries, but this was the first time that it became so organized.

Streicher hired cartoonists, like Philipp Rupprecht, who drew the cartoon to the right, depicting an outspoken Adolfus Hitler, who had been forbidden to address public meetings in much of Germany. The caption reads "He alone of two billion people on earth may not speak in Germany.”

Like Levant, Streicher was constantly being charged with hate crimes, and was the target of many lawsuits filed against him by the Jewish people. They feared that his often vile cartoons would incite hatred.

The publisher had a good lawyer, Harms Krafft, who at 12,000 marks a pop, found something in the country's "code law" to get his client, a decorated war hero, off.
Krafft's principal client, moreover, was a man well able to make a favorable courtroom impression. The rhetoric of patriotism was a familiar defense in Weimar Germany for everything from petty theft to political murder. And Julius Streicher was an authentic war hero. (1)
Streicher's vile cartoons, many pornographic, were deemed to be little more than "healthy public opinion." He argued that the German people had a right to know.

As the follower of Sun noted: "Long live the freedom to have an alternative to CBC", I wish progressives would find an alternative to what now passes for television news and commentary.

We have a right-wing show, a further right-wing show, an even further right-wing show, and then Sun TV.

We need someone daily exposing this movement, along with its think tanks, AstroTurf groups, and especially the Religious Right, now dictating most policy.

And we need it soon, before Sun TV becomes the only voice Canadians have.


1. Jews, Nazis, and the Law: The Case of Julius Streicher, by Dennis E. Showalter, Museum of Tolerance

1 comment:

  1. Didn't Levant have to pay in a defamation suit launched by Richard Warman? Wasn't it Levant who cited the notorious Marc Lemire of the racist Heritage Front for some of his statements about the CHRC?