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Monday, January 11, 2016

Farewell to George Jonas

...Though a proud Canadian for many years, George was an immigrant in this land, and brought with him memories and experiences North Americans have been fortunate to escape in recent generations. He had seen up close what it meant to live without the rights and security we take for granted — first, as a young Jew in Nazi-allied Hungary, forced to wear the yellow star, spared from the Holocaust only by it not having been fully executed in Budapest by the time the Germans were driven out. Later, with his homeland “liberated” by the victorious armies of the U.S.S.R., George saw what little improvement the Soviets made as masters. They weren’t set on exterminating George and his family, but had little beyond that to recommend them, he felt. He fled the country after the Red Army crushed the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, but never left those memories behind.

Even in his final days, freedom was much on George’s mind. A member of this editorial board visited with him recently. “Forty years ago,” George said, “or 50 or 60, no reasonable observer would have imagined our world looking like this.” He was referring to the state of the world in a general sense — a resurgent Russia, an increasingly assertive China, a Middle Eastern power vacuum being filled by Iran, Saudi Arabia and blights such as the Islamic State. But he was referring first and foremost to the utterly befuddled and hapless state of the West, which he felt was so afraid of its own past sins, so reluctant to cause offence, that it risked losing the will to defend itself, and its values — the values George spent his lifetime cherishing...

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