Somewhere between "minuscule" and "small" would describe the size of the demonstration held outside Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission offices in Toronto last Tuesday by the Roma community protesting against the Sun News Network. There were about two dozen people in total, including speakers which included "social activist" Bernie Farber and former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj.
There is no defending the content of Ezra Levant's tirade against the Gypsy community last year. Sun News issued an apology almost immediately after its broadcast and Levant himself apologized in great length and detail last month.
Hopefully, that would have put the unfortunate episode in the past, but the issue has become less a cause about offense to the Gypsy community than as a spear opponents of Sun News would use to strike at the fledgling conservative news network.
That motive was so transparent that aspects of the protest took on an element of self-parody. Among the complaints by Roma Community Centre Director Gina Csányi-Robah was that Sun News continues to use the "offensive" term Gypsy to describe the Roma people. Making that claim ridiculous, following her speech, the event's Master of Ceremonies announced a performance by two musicians from the group "The Gypsy Lions."
A definitive monograph on the Gypsies by University of British Colombia Sociology Professor Werner Cohn refutes much of what Ms Csányi-Robah, who was born in Canada, alleges. Cohn is extremely sympathetic to the Gypsies, whose culture he studied in great detail and he dispels dangerous slanders against them such as the allegation of Gypsies "stealing children."
But he also points out that the Gypsies are in fact a number of peoples, most of whom self-identify as Gypsies and of whom the Roma (or Rom or Romani) are just one group.
Bernie Farber's interest in the Roma community is curious. He undoubtedly is sincere in advocating for people he considers oppressed. But it is remarkably convenient for him that in agitating against Sun News, he can attack people with whom he has an apparent ax to grind. As Farber pointed out in an interview on CBC Radio's As It Happens, there is a long history and no love lost between him and Ezra Levant.
That interview is fascinating in a number of ways. The biases and abuses of the state-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have been a frequent Sun TV target that could possibly even be described as an obsession, and Levant's Gypsy faux pas is being seized upon as an opportunity for payback.
In the interview, Farber and As it Happens host Carol Off compete with each other to malign Sun News and Levant, working themselves into a crescendo of bile. Off is famous for her lack of emotional allocution. For those unfamiliar with her vocal style, imagine a lobotomized, female Ben Stein on Ritalin and that will give you an idea of her bland droning. But on this occasion her disdain for Sun News was so evident that she actually conveyed feeling in her voice.
But that feeling was rife with hypocrisy. As blogger Blogwrath has noted, the CBC has broadcast anti-Gypsy programming that invokes the most hateful stereotypes they face.
At the protest, former Liberal MP Wrzesnewskyj betrayed himself as an intellectual featherweight by comparing Ezra Levant to the unapologetic neo-Nazi Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel.
Wrzesnewskyj was one of the most anti-Israel MPs in the House of Commons while he sat there. He co-authored a heavily biased anti-Israel report along with pathologically anti-Israel NDP MP Libby Davies. On his trip to make that report, he was accompanied by Sea Hitler organizer Ehab Lotayef and a group of fanatics who routinely support and participate in the "Israeli Apartheid Week" hate-fest that has been condemned by the last two federal Liberal Party leaders, Ignatieff and Rae. Wrzesnewskyj was compelled to resign as Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic in 2006 after he advocated that Canada engage with the terror group Hezbollah.
Ms Csányi-Robah has her own odd history of engaging, on behalf of her community, with nefarious groups. She has aligned the Roma cause with radical fanatics who want an end to Israel as a Jewish state. That association has shamed a number of Canadian Roma who wanted to distance themselves from such hate. That may partially account for why she was unable to garner much support from her own community for her Tuesday protest.
It might strike some as remarkable that former Canadian Jewish Congress boss Farber would be part of such an event. But Farber has been remaking himself recently since losing his role as one of Canada's top "Official Jews." He has been using his twitter account to promote links from anti-Israel hysterics such as blogger Dr. Dawg, and the vehemently anti-Israel website rabble.ca.
As blogger Sassywire points out, many in the Jewish community have been urging Farber for some time to come to protests against anti-Semites and Islamist hate-mongers seeking Israel's elimination, but he has not notably done so. Ironically the protest he makes a point of attending, he does so alongside people associated with anti-Israel causes to condemn the most pro-Israel media outlet in Canada.
In the end, it doesn't take much examination to get the impression that, like most people opposed to free speech, the protesters against Sun News appear less interested in suppressing hatred than they do in suppressing points of view that differ from theirs.