But there's another kind of person who is a proponent of fatuous race-based prejudices. The kind that teaches about racist-sounding subjects like "whiteness theory" and "critical race theory" at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the premier teachers' college in Canada.
The name Sheryl Nestel may sound familiar. She is an academic, but if you recognize her name, it's not for any noteworthy academic accomplishment. Nestel is a teacher at OISE who was at the center of a controversy at the end of 2010, when a thesis of which she was the academic adviser was denounced by a provincial Minister and others in the Ontario legislature for being anti-Semitic.
Nestel recently authored a lengthy article for a strange fringe group of anti-Israel activists called "Independent Jewish Voices," in which she describes Canada's government as "hell-bent on expanding racism, environmental exploitation, militarization and economic injustice. "
And why does she believe that many Canadian Jews support the government of Stephen Harper, which she describes in terms so scathing that anyone ill-informed enough to believe them might confuse our Prime Minister with Benito Mussolini? Certainly not for proficient economic stewardship of the country during a worldwide economic crisis. Nor for sound foreign policy or a cohesive national energy strategy. Nestel concludes that Jews support the Conservatives to reap the "rewards of white supremacy." The OISE professor continues to describe Jews, who in Canada maintain a wide range of political affiliations and diverse public opinions, as "a community anxious to conceal its ideological divisions and maintain its place in the racial order."
Nestel's tome contains such bizarre, anti-Jewish, conspiratorial accusations, it would make a worthy appendage to the notorious Czarist anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Among her preposterous, paranoid allegations, Nestel claims to have "identified an “international racial contract” that extends across nationally defined borders and assumes a collusion of interests between the Canadian and the Israeli states."
She also charges that:
"Jews in Canada can be seen in their support for the Conservative government and its policies as being on the “right” side of the “clash of civilizations” a stance which solidifies Jewish whiteness and obscures ideological, sociological and historical differences within the Jewish community. This deal with the devil has been engineered by a small group of prominent and wealthy individuals including Canadian business moguls Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, who managed to dissolve the quasi-democratic Canadian Jewish Congress, replacing it with the Committee for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), a non elected body that dictates Jewish politics across Canada."Nestel's article is consistent with the sloppy academic belching that characterized the theses she guided which caused the University of Toronto such embarrassment two years ago. She is associated with a highly politicized program at OISE in which adherence to radical ideologies evidently supplants actual education. Part of the program's creed is opposition to Israel and Zionism.
Interestingly, Nestel admits something that her fringe group generally denies, but is well known in Canada's Jewish community; that most anti-Zionist activists like her who self-identify as Jews have no real connection to Judaism, but make their proclamation "to deflect charges of anti-Semitism leveled at those who work" to deligitimize Israel.
Academic freedom is an important principle, and Nestel is entitled to her views, as appalling as they may be. But it is worrisome that students at the University of Toronto's OISE would be indoctrinated to such nonsense without getting a sane counterbalance. For the benefit of its students, it should be incumbent upon the university to ensure that fair balance is a guaranteed part of their education.