There is no room in reasoned public debate for citations of genocidal maniacs.
Yet, people keep doing it.
The most recent Hitler reference occurred on CTV Newsnet on election day, by a Halifax radio host who shall remain nameless on these pages because I don’t want to give him the publicity he so obviously craves. Besides, if you follow my links, it’s there.
He was trying to make a point to another Canadian radio host, Charles Adler, who happens to be the grandson of Holocaust victims, by invoking the name of Hitler to represent the ultimate evil.
As a media professional he knows full well that referring to Hitler ends all reasonable discussion and provokes only an emotional response.
Had he really been trying to make a point, he could have said, Charles Adler would vote for Attila the Hun, or better yet, some fictional evil character.
So, whatever point is buried in that exchange was forever doomed, CTV had a really uncomfortable on-air moment, the Halifax radio host has lost credibility and people are talking about it - to which I say, good.
That’s what free speech does, it brings everything into the fresh air and sunlight of common sense.
I liken hateful ideas to molds or infections that grow in dark, airless places. If you open them up to air and light, they die. Allowing free expression and open discussion of ALL ideas is akin to vaccination against dread diseases.
If you try to keep your children or yourself away from germs, then you end up hiding under your bed all day, and will probably get sick anyway and be unprepared to resist.
If you've been exposed to the idea/germ beforehand, your mind/body has learned how to deal with it and the consequences are infinitely milder.
In perhaps a related story, The Washington Post today felt it appropriate to remind its readers that Stephen Harper thought that Canada should have supported the US war in Iraq in 2003.
I guess the Post felt its readers would be able to relate, one way or another, or something, but that was a strange episode of Harper’s long political career to single out the day after his election.
In any case, Harper wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Events have since shown that neither Canada nor the US nor anybody except perhaps the UN should have intervened in that way, at that time. Jean Chretien did the right thing in the wrong manner: there is no way Canada could have been of much use in Iraq, given that our military resources were busy in Afghanistan, but Chretien could have offered moral support or at least been polite about his refusal.
Okay he was right, much as it pains me to say that.
In 2003 I too felt that Canada should have helped the US in any way we could, not realizing that the US had the wrong plan and the wrong way to execute that plan, but that’s easy to see now from this standpoint.
There is no question that Saddam Hussein is a genocidal maniac – and genocidal maniacs need to be deposed. The ink on the history books is barely dry in this regard. Many alive today still remember, and lived through, World War II; most of us were around when the Rwandan genocide occurred with the full knowledge of the civilized world including the UN which was created to save us from these catastrophes.
Those were not the only genocides in living memory, and some are probably still occurring in places like Africa and North Korea.
The world errs on the side of neglect and procrastination against these tyrants to the point where they probably feel secure in their invulnerability.
Turning a blind eye because it’s happening in another country can’t be the last word.
The UN is all we have to stop this now, and it has got to start doing a better job.