My local paper has been besieged with letters regarding the recent Netanyahu fiasco at Montreal's Concordia University.
Some of the letter-writers are justifiably outraged, some are philosophical, and some are just plain unbalanced.
An example of the latter would be the letter by one Jamison Cant of Montreal, full of sinister hints and vague accusations. We could call it, “Cant’s Rant.” Just don't expect him to re-Cant, haha.
Mr. Cant wonders, “Why was one of the most controversial opponents of Palestinian statehood scheduled to speak at a ticketed event (partially backed by the foundation of a major media corporation whose owner is unapologetically biased on the issue) that was held on a university campus rather than at a private venue?”
Ah, why indeed? This is no doubt part of some dark evil plot signifying… well, something bad, anyway.
Cant continues, as we hoped he would. “Not just any university, mind you, but Concordia University, with its well-established reputation for student activism and Palestinian support? Surely, only the naïve and the disingenuous would label this choice of location a coincidence.”
Aha! The plot begins to unravel. The conspirators are mercilessly unmasked. It was done deliberately, you see. But what could have been the intent of this sinister scheme? Fortunately, Jamison Cant is there to piece it all together for us.
“Freedom of speech is a strange thing. Once someone claims it, far too often, he uses it to deny his opponents the same freedom – sometimes violently, sometimes with subtlety.”
Nothing gets past this Cant. The organizers of the event demanded freedom of speech in a ruse to get the other side to kick in windows and beat up Jews, so that the organizers could then accuse the protesters of denying them freedom of speech, thus denying their foes freedom of speech in return!
Er, or something.
Well, you get the gist. Oh, don’t you yet? Then let’s sample this letter from one Jeremiah F. Hayes, Distinguished Emeritus Professor at Concordia University, who also happened to be my professor in an Electrical Engineering course lo these many years.
Professor Hayes also, like Jamison Cant, likes to use the word “disingenuous”. Even the headline over the letter is “Outrage at protest disingenuous,” and in the letter’s opening sentence he writes, “I find the outrage at the cancellation of Benjamin Netanyahu’s talk to be disingenuous.” Got it? Disingenuous.
Like many others, he makes a big deal about the fact that Netanyahu spoke two days before the 9/11 anniversary. Like it would have made a difference if Netanyahu spoke in December, except that the protesters would have had to wear earmuffs over their keffiyehs.
“In Israel, it is alleged that his inflammatory rhetoric contributed to the assassination of former Prime Minister Yithak Rabin. What can we expect from placing him into the volatile atmosphere at Concordia University just two days before the one-year anniversary of 9/11?”
This Netanyahu fellow is obviously lethal. He’s the explosive human equivalent of a trinitrotoluol and nitroglycerin cocktail. This guy is obviously so toxic we should consider having him regulated by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. I mean, stick this bomb in human form into a crowd of rock-holding anarchists and flick the switch, and how else do you expect the poor chumps to react?
I’m not really sure why people think that the university atmosphere would have been so abnormally highly charged in the days leading to the 9/11 anniversary. Or why they think the protesters were such delicate flowers that they would have been so adversely affected by it. But I bow to my former professor’s vast knowledge.
“Of course,” Professor Hayes continues relentlessly, “for students from Hillel, which helped organize the event, it is a win-win situation. Whether the talk were canceled or not, Mr. Netanyahu’s message would get out. If the protest were vehement enough to cause cancellation, it would be a clear demonstration of the tactics of the opposition.”
Those wily Jews. Here we were all thinking that they bought tickets to the event so that they could listen to Netanyahu speak, when all along it turns out they just wanted him to provoke a bunch of thugs to kick and punch them.
On the other hand, it is a lose-lose for the university. Assuming the university could deny approval for the talk, it would be accused of stifling free speech. But, in order to guarantee security, drastic measures were required: closing the university for the day and cordoning off the streets around the Henry F. Hall building, regardless of the costs to students, local businesses and local residents.That the university was closed for the day might surprise some students who attended class that day. Perhaps Professor Hayes is referring to the closing of the university that occurred after protesters uncontrollably stormed and defaced the building, “regardless of the costs to students, local businesses and local residents.”
“I am outraged over the use of the university for a purely political agenda,” he concludes rather piously. Apparently the political agenda of the protesters does not cause an equivalent spark of outrage.
Dare I say, I find Professor Hayes' outrage to be... well, disingenuous.
But don't think too badly of Professor Hayes; after all, he had sufficient wisdom to give me an A+ in that course.