Well, so much for the high road.
The Winnipeg Free Press has gone from alluding to Ukrainian-Canadian activists as thugs threatening to knee-cap politicians who won't do their bidding to denouncing them as ignorant and uninformed rabble. Sneering condescension gives way to undisguised insults.
The newspaper was tipped over the edge last week by a national poll that showed a strong majority of Canadians (over 60 percent) opposed plans by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to have only one permanent exhibit --- a Holocaust gallery.
All other genocides throughout history will be relegated to a "mass atrocities" zone.
And that's the way it should be, blustered the Free Press editorial writer, because the Holocaust is ssssspecial.
"Why does the Holocaust get a place in the front seat? Only the uninformed ask questions like that," shouted the voice of the newspaper.
With that, the Winnipeg Free Press started a journey down a very, very dark path.
We'll get to that in a minute.
The CMHR has been on the defensive since late last year when the Ukrainian community launched a campaign to get equal exposure for the victims of Communism, centered on the Holodomor, the state-sponsored famine that killed millions of Ukrainians. To break the back of Ukrainian nationalism, Stalin literally starved millions to death as the world watched and, neither did, or said anything.
"The campaign against a separate place for the Holocaust in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has always seemed parochial..." sniffed the Winnipeg Free Press dismissively.
The respondents to the Nanos poll were probably ignorant about the facts and their opinions should be ignored, the newspaper said.
And in any event, the way the Jews of Europe were systematically murdered by the Nazis is more important than the way Stalin killed Ukrainians in the grand scheme of things, the FP argued.
"Unlike all other genocides, the Holocaust was global in its reach. The Nazis killed Jews in all the nearly 30 countries they occupied in full or in part during the war. Unlike the Soviets, who wanted to end Ukrainian nationalism and were indifferent to Ukrainians elsewhere, the Nazis wanted to eliminate Jews wherever they could find them."
And yet the Communists managed to kill as many or more in an area barely 1/17th the size of Europe. They turned the entire Ukraine into one big concentration camp where they could conduct their murderous plan without interference. Their plans to spread Communism worldwide never came to fruition and yet they were still responsible for the deaths of tens of millions. What their ultimate plan for Ukrainians around the world will never be known.
"The suffering of individual Jews was no greater than the pain of Ukrainians or others who have been targets of hatred, but the story of how they lost their rights, and how their neighbours -- ordinary people -- turned against them, is a unique cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy and human rights."
Do you want a cautionary tale?
The most influential newspaper in the world, the New York Times was aware of the Holodmor, and failed to report on it.
Leftwing intellectuals like British writer Arthur Koestler knew of it, and were silent in the cause.
To this very day, in Canada, Nazis are reviled, but Communists are treated with respect.
Earlier this month the board of directors of the National Capital Commission demurred when asked to approve a new monument commemorating Victims of Totalitarian Communism.
“We should make sure we are politically correct concerning this position ... I feel this name should be changed,” said board member Helene Grand-Maitre.
Possibly the greatest genocide in the Twentieth Century went unreported and its perpetrators are being defended to this day.
Why? By Whom? Now, that's a cautionary tale.
And how the CMHR and the Winnipeg Free Press reacted to the challenge to a permanent Holocaust gallery is also a cautionary tale.
The proponents of the museum have publicly professed to welcome debate and multiple points of view on all matters relating to human rights. But the museum isn't even open and already the board of trustees is announcing exceptions.
The position of the Holocaust in the museum is beyond challenge. There will be no discussion, no argument.
Is there anything else, that cannot be discussed?
Former COO Patrick O'Reilly didn't mince words when talking to the Carleton alumni magazine last fall.
The article summarized O'Reilly's viewpoint and that of a fellow executive of the museum, both of whom have since mysteriously packed their bags and silently slipped away in the dead of night.
"...museum biases will show. Same-sex equality will be treated as a legitimate human right at the museum, despite the voting record of the chief executive officer and even though many Canadians consider homosexuality an illness, a sin or a moral failing.
“It’s the law,” Victoria Dickenson, PhD/95, the museum’s chief knowledge officer, says of gay rights. "
So gay rights join the primacy of the Holocaust as untouchable issues.
Add aboriginal "rights" and colonialism and suddenly the museum's commitment to full and open discussion of alleged human rights shrinks precipitously.
It fuels the demand by the Ukrainian groups to reorganize the museum's board and its exhibits committee to remove Gail Asper's handpicked team dedicated to reflecting her wishes and political biases.
But that's not going to happen if the Winnipeg Free Press gets its way. They're already prepping their nuclear option to stop the Ukes.
Remember the dark path mentioned above. We couldn't make out the street sign the first pass. It was only in hindsight that it came obvious.
Start with two consecutive questions from the Maclean's interview with Gail Asper, and one oblique answer.
Q: The Ukrainian-Canadian Civil Liberties Association has charged that one horror—the Holocaust—is being “elevated” above all others at the museum. What’s your response?
Q: Do you think that anti-Semitism is playing a part in this?
A: I haven’t come face to face with the group that is saying this, and I wouldn’t want to accuse anyone of anti-Semitism.
What's that mean?
Was she hinting she might change her opinion once she did come "face to face" with that group?
We let that slide....until three days later, up popped this story in the weekend FP, on the Faith page.
"Local Institute to combat anti-semitism" was the headline.
"Catherine Chatterly is a young academic at the University of Manitoba who is devoting her career to a study of what is widely regarded as the oldest hatred."
Fourteen turgid paragraphs later, the story got to the point.
"I think the recent public exchanges in the newspapers about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and its proposed Holocaust gallery clearly illustrate the need for a permanent curriculum in Holocaust history at Canadian Universities," Chatterley says.
"Whether people like it or not, and regardless of their own personal feelings and collective grievances, the Holocaust is a catastrophic transformative event in western history and it is unique because its antecedents are 2000 years old and yet persist today. One cannot say that about the ideologies at work in other genocides."
"Collective grievances." "It is unique." "Ideologies at work in other genocides."
It's not hard to put two and two together.
* Gail Asper doesn't want to accuse the Ukrainians of being anti-Semites, although she hasn't met them face-to-face.
*Only "the uniformed" ask why the Asper human rights museum plans to highlight the Holocaust over all the other genocides in the world.
* An "expert" on anti-semitism says people have to put aside their "collective grievances" and recognize the Holocaust as more important than other genocides.
* Should we conclude that if the uniformed continue to press their case, then it it because they have another agenda, another motivation?
Hmmm. Maybe a non-profit academic institute can help identify that motivation.
It didn't take long to play that card, did it.