The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some victims are more equal than others: the Animal Farm ethics of the CMHR

You've got to hand it to the Winnipeg Free Press for exposing the Animal Farm ethics of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights --- some victims are just more equal than others.

The FP was actually coming to the defence of Gail Asper and her cronies who were being accused by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress for, of all things, playing favorites. Asper and her pals on the museum's advisory board have decided that the publicly-funded museum will have only two "permanent" exhibits---one for the Jewish Holocaust and the other under the grab-bag "Aboriginals". All others, like Stalin's campaign to starve Ukrainian peasants out of existence, will be relegated to "virtual" exhibit status, whatever that nebulous term means.

"The museum is not saying that individual Jews suffered more than Ukrainians, but it is saying that some crimes are more revealing and consequential than others." declared the Free Press editorial writer, confirming and justifying a two-tier approach to "human rights" by the CMHR.

When the museum was first floated by Izzy Asper about 7 years ago, he made no bones about it, it was going to be a Holocaust museum ("will incorporate the largest Holocaust gallery in Canada") garnished with modern human rights pother.
By the time the CMHR was put on the public payroll in 2008, the Holocaust aspect was being downplayed behind a facade of Human Rights 'education'. But under Gail Asper's tutelege, the core of the museum was and would continue to be forever, the Holocaust.

So you can imagine the shock when the Ukrainians raised their heretical ideas.

Why is Gail Asper given grandfathered status on the board of the CMHR when it is no longer an Asper-funded museum, they ask. Why does she get to say what will be a permanent exhibit and what won't?
Why shouldn't the Holodomor, the official Soviet campaign of starving the Ukrainian people to death, be given equal standing to the Holocaust within the walls of the CMHR?

The Winnipeg Free Press dashed to the side of Gail Asper.

"This is an unfortunate demand that ignores the uniqueness of the Holocaust and its enormous value as a teaching tool. It could also reduce the museum to a grim chamber of horrors that emphasizes body counts over education." bleated the FP editorial.

So comparing body count is not relevant? Good.

Because, unlike Holocaust denial, Holodomor denial is a thriving industry in academic circles.

How many died because of Stalin's starvation campaign?
7 million? 10 million? 2.5 million? 4 million?

It doesn't matter, says the FP , just as it doesn't matter how many died under the Nazi Holocaust.

"Then why give the Holocaust special status in a museum mandated to examine human rights?" said columnist Dan Lett.

"For the lawyers and scholars who study human rights, the Holocaust represents the most systematic, most premeditated, most calculated mass murder in history. A nation-state used legitimate means to legally declare some of its citizens subhuman. It is this event that prompted the world to forge a legal framework for human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) asserted that every human being has fundamental rights that cannot be extinguished by a national law. The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as the name suggests, defined the crime of genocide and gave it a legal context in which it could be prosecuted. Both were direct results of the Holocaust."

If Lett had taken a minute to think it through, he wouldn't have wound up looking like such a dupe.

The "most systematic, most premeditated, most calculated mass murder in history"?

The decision to starve millions of Ukrainians to death wasn't systematic?

One day soldiers spontaneously decided to take all the grain and farm animals from Ukrainian farmers and give it to Russians?

And to seal off the borders so the starving Ukrainians couldn't leave to find food and couldn't buy food for their families?

And to kill anyone who protested?

The Russians didn't need to create a vast apparatus to transport Ukrainians to newly built death camps. They turned the entire country into one big death camp.

And not premeditated? So one day Stalin woke up for find millions of Ukrainians had died in the night? And nobody told him? You bet that's the way it happened.

The most calculated mass murder? Are we counting now?

The only reason we know about the Jewish Holocaust in such excruciating detail is that we conquered Nazi Germany by force of arms.

We occupied the entire country and took control of the massive documentation. And we arrested thousands of Nazi's who facilitated the attempt to exterminate all the Jews of Europe and they talked and talked and talked.

The Holodomor was hidden and denied for almost sixty years.

It wasn't until the collapse of Communism and the independence of Ukraine that historians had access to documentation, and even only from the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, not Stalin's Russia.

The mass murder of Ukrainians was a contemporary genocide to the Holocaust. They were less than 10 years apart.

Stalin was celebrating the deaths of millions of Ukrainians just as Hitler was taking power in Germany.

If the world had been told of the Holodomor in 1933, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide might have been proclaimed before the outbreak of World War Two.

Was the Holocaust a direct result of the failure to publicize the Holodomor?

You want a teaching tool?

Put the two galleries side-by-side and ask why one is remembered, and the other is not and why Stalin got away with it.

Why are we still prosecuting 80- and 90-year-old men for being guards in Nazi death camps, but there hasn't been even one prosecution of a Russian involved in the campaign to starve Ukrainians peasants out of existence?

The FP failed to address the most important point in the UCC message to government:

"(T)he crimes of communism receive no mention in the Content Advisory report."

How could that be?

The Communists were responsible for more deaths, more suffering, more human rights violations within their own national boundaries and around the world than the Nazis, and there's NO MENTION in the museum's content advisory report?

Doesn't that tell you all you need to know about the CMHR's advisory committee?

The Holocaust is the worst mass-murder of Jews in history. To them it is unparallelled.

To everyone else in the world, it is a sickening example of the extremes of racial and religious hatred. But it is not unparallelled.

The Holocaust is not extraordinarily special in the world context. Every mass murder is just as shocking to the target community as the Holocaust is to the Jews. We just happen to know every minute detail of the Holocaust thanks to the meticulous record-keeping of the Germans. But that doesn't make it any more "revealing and consequential."

If the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is truly to be something other than a Holocaust museum, then its board of directors must realize that the Holocaust deserves no special status regardless of how painful that would be to Gail Asper and her associates.

And the crimes of the Communists must be front and centre in this "world class" facility, if it is to have any credibility at all.

Are you listening, Dan Lett?

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