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Saturday, March 8, 2014

The week ends, but the Ezra Levant trial will go on

Consider what you would think if a former Assistant Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan were to claim that he was not an anti-black racist. Would you believe him if he insisted he had no idea that the organization he represented was based on racist ideology? Moreover, what if his particular responsibility for the Ku Klux Klan was to drum up political advocacy, and he later declared he wasn't aware of the best-known and most controversial political position the Klan had taken?

Because for you to believe that Khurran Awan told the truth during his testimony in the trial where he is suing Sun TV host Ezra Levant for calling him, among other things, an "anti-Semite" and a "serial liar," you would essentially have to believe in the veracity of our hypothetical Klansman.

Awan was the President of the Youth Wing of the Canadian Islamic Congress, with which federal Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney ended all contact because of its antisemitism and support for terrorism. The head of the CIC at the time of much of Awan's tenure there was the notorious Mohammed Elmasry, who has been described as Awan's mentor, and who infamously declared on The Michael Coren Show that he thought all Israelis over the age of 18 were fair targets for terrorists to kill.

Earlier in the week, Awan testified that his responsibility with the CIC was to gain support for political advocacy. He also testified that he was unaware that the CIC, while he was President of its national youth wing, had issued a press release that was supportive of the antisemitic terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

Another critical point Levant was able to reintroduce today was that the CIC, while Awan was a senior official, had on a number of occasions published anti-semitic material in its weekly newsletter by a Greg Felton. That would be the same Greg Felton from whom only a day earlier, Awan's attorney had elicited testimony that revealed him to be a deranged hatemonger.

Ezra Levant took the stand in his own defense yesterday. Combined with solid corroborative testimony from the venerable barrister Julian Porter the day earlier, Levant made an extremely convincing case that he was justified in making the disputed characterizations upon which the judgement will hinge.

In the course of the trial, Awan admitted that he had left a comment on the blog of Garth Turner, the former federal Minister of National Revenue, accusing him of acting as an "Israeli Likudnik Outpost." A common trope among antisemites is that Israel and Jews control foreign governments and that Jews and Israel's supporters are disloyal to their own countries in favor of "Jewish interests." Those anti-semitic tropes frequently sound exactly like the sort of comment Awan made, and Levant hammered him on it in explaining the rationale that led to the events unfolding in court this week.

As to his description of Awan as a "serial liar," Levant not only remained firm in that assertion, but doubled down on it, calling Awan a "damn liar" during his emotional testimony.

Much of whether the court finds in favor of Levant and effectively confirms that Awan is indeed a liar will be decided on claims surrounding a Human Rights Commission case against Macleans magazine over an article written by Mark Steyn that was critical of Islamism in North America.

The matter of much of the focus is whether the complainants offered the magazine an opportunity to find a mutually agreed upon author to write a rebuttal to Steyn's article. Awan had repeatedly implied Macleans' editors were 'Islamophobes' and bigots for not agreeing to that "reasonable" request. However in Porter's testimony and in testimony from Levant today that the court heard was evidenced by Awan's own admissions, no such offer was ever made to Macleans by him or the complainants at the times in question.

So the judge in Levant's case must determine whether the "serial liar" description is justified by the repeated false assertions that now appear to have been made by Awan and which, unless he was afflicted by amnesia, brain damage, or selective memory loss, he knew to be untrue.

These cases are also influenced by the respective credibility of the parties involved. If that was the sole determining factor, most observers of the case would likely find strongly in Levant's favor. Awan routinely affected ignorance of matters of which any reasonable person would be expected to be aware, forgetfulness of significant details and general obfuscation. Levant, on the other hand, was forthright to the point of near self-damage. He spoke at great length and in great detail, not only about facts but of his feelings at the time of the events that have led to his current travails.

Indeed, Levant was so long-winded on the stand that the trial, which was expected to conclude yesterday, will continue on Monday. It is anticipated that most of the next trial day will be taken up by Awan's very able attorney, Brian Shiller, cross-examining the defendant.  For anyone who likes fireworks, attending court on Monday could turn out to be an entertaining experience.

UPDATE: Monday's (Day 6)  trial update HERE


moray watson said...

Thank you for the daily reports. They are very well written.

"..forthright to the point of near self-damage..". That would be true except that Ezra is, of course not trying to defend himself based on technicalities or nuances. His defense is the "truth", warts and all. Less of the truth would just be political correctness, which is the very thing he is fighting against.

Richard K said...

Ezra included a great deal of opinion as well as fact, and court, during testimony, isn't necessarily the best place for that.

And thanks for the kind words about the updates.