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, April 21, 2011

The anti-Ukrainian hate campaign infects the Winnipeg Free Press


Knowingly or unknowingly, Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dan Lett has become a part of the hate campaign against Canada's Ukrainian community.

On his newspaper-sanctioned blog, Lett purports to address the debate over the decision, by museum trustees, to have a stand-alone Holocaust gallery within the Canadian Museum for Human Rights while relegating every other genocide in history to second-class status by lumping them together in a grab-bag gallery of "mass atrocity".

The hand-picked board of the museum insists the Holocaust is the most important genocide in history because it sparked the human rights movement, a view disputed by one of their own former consultants who is among the most respected Holocaust historians in the world.

Voices of the Ukrainian community, namely the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, are arguing there should be no hierarchy of genocide, and the galleries in the CMHR should be grouped by themes. If the theme is genocide, they say, then the Holocaust should be discussed alongside the Holodomor, the government-sanctioned famine that killed millions of Ukrainians less than 10 years earlier, and other mass-murders of ethnic groups before and since.

Lett tips his bias in the debate early on.

"The Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association have been waging an increasingly bitter campaign against plans to establish galleries that will deal with the Holocaust and aboriginal people."

Say what? The Ukrainian groups have been extraordinarily civil at all times. They have never engaged in name-calling or personal insults. They have scrupulously avoided any reference to the Jewish background of Gail Asper, who is spearheading the museum; Ron Stern and Bob Silver, the owners of the Winnipeg Free Press, and Sam Katz, the Mayor who has funnelled $20 million into the museum and now wants to waive almost $4 million in property taxes.

They have always focused on the central issue---the special status being accorded the Holocaust.

By contrast, the museum backers dove into the gutter instantly. Gail Asper hinted that the UCCLA might be anti-semitic. She hadn't met them, she said. The Winnipeg Jewish Review has circulated outright hate speech that accuses the Ukrainian Canadian community of "a significant tolerance of antisemitism..." .
University of Manitoba (ed. note: apparently not a professor, but an instructor) Catherine Chatterley went so far as to invent a falsehood that she could use to discredit the Ukrainian community as, what else, anti-semitic.

But Lett didn't notice any of this. To his eyes, it's the Ukrainians who are responsible for the "bitter campaign".

After briefly mentioning Prof. Michael Marrus, whose denunciation of the CMHR was reported fully in The Black Rod but never in the Free Press,

"However, if the sheer number of academics counts for anything, then the scales may have tipped in favor of the CMHR. This past week, a group of 91 academics from around the world with expertise in the Holocaust, European history and genocides, including the Holodomor, signed a letter (text also follows below) condemning the UCC and UCCLA for its attack on the CMHR."
Where did the letter come from? None other than the Winnipeg Jewish Review.

It's purpose---to smear Ukrainians by denouncing the nationalist groups that fought the Soviets during World War Two as Nazi collaborators.

"By pointing out the historical record of the OUN, UPA, and the Galicia Division, we do not mean to suggest some sort of collective responsibility for genocide on the part of all the men and women who served in them, and certainly not on the part of all Ukrainians." said the 91 "academics".

Oh no? You fooled us.

The simplest check of the signatories leads one to the apparent source of the letter, David Hirsh, a lecturer at the University of London and the founding editor of a website called Engage, which is described as a resource for those working to understand and to oppose contemporary antisemitism.

Do you detect a theme here?

Lett cited the expertise of the academics who signed the letter --- "Holocaust, European history and genocides, including the Holodomor" --- but he failed to point out that their only interest in the Holodomor is to spin it as an example of how Ukrainians use their own national tragedy to feed anti-semitism.

Lett then printed the letter in full on his blog, making sure it receives wider distribution than just on the Winnipeg Jewish Review. He hasn't printed any letter or news release from the UCCLA or UCC regarding the Canadian Museum for Human Rights?

Is one side of the "debate" more equal than the other, Dan?

Lett did contribute something to the debate when he interviewed Heritage Minister James Moore and quoted him saying "there will be no permanent exhibits. That was clear from Stuart Murray and the board.” He contributed the question 'Did the Canadian Museum for Human Rights mislead the minister?'

The CMHR has always planned to have a permanent Holocaust exhibit in one of their 12 zones. That zone will be dedicated to the Holocaust and only the Holocaust. It will be permanently assigned to the Holocaust.

Did CMHR CEO Stu Murray tell the minister something else?

Was he, shall we say, less than crystal clear, allowing Moore to hear what he wanted to hear?

Because there is no doubt there will be a permanent Holocaust exhibit.

Canada's ethnic groups object to having one zone dedicated to the national tragedy of only one group while genocides affecting their groups will somehow be lumped together in another of the 12 zones. And nobody at the CMHR can give a straight answer about how "permanent" the exhibits in that gallery will be.
Angela Cassie, the museum’s communications director, speaks a lot but communicates poorly.

Here's how she explained the situation to the Globe and Mail:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/ukrainian-congress-presses-moore-for-clarity-on-human-rights-musem/article1985357/
“...each space within the museum is going to have a wide variety of content and exhibits, most of which will be digitally driven ... All of our exhibits and all of our plans will be in constant, not necessarily day-to-day evolution, frequent evolution. So even in the Holocaust and aboriginal galleries, as additional research is done and more information is available, the content of the museum will be updated and added to.”

Clear as mud.

It sounds like the exhibits in the mass atrocity gallery will change constantly, while the Holocaust gallery will always be the Holocaust gallery.

So. one day the mass atrocity gallery may focus on the Amenian genocide, the next on the Holodomor and the next the massacre of Tutsis. But that's alright, because everything is digital and, as you know, digital is "permanent" so, technically, the ever-changing exhibits are permanent and the permanent Holocaust gallery is also permanent, although it will change too. Got it?

You would think that by committing hundreds of millions of dollars to the museum, the federal government would demand a clear, and permanent, answer.

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