Blogspot | 11Apr2011 | blackrod
Shut their mouths: The first legacy
of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
respected and rolling away from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights?
Another wheel fallen off the Asper bus.
"Leave it to the experts" has been the desperate last-ditch cry of
proponents of the CMHR as the public facade of the museum has slowly
chipped away. But the experts have begun to desert the CMHR.
Over the past few months, the truth has been forced out, bit by bit --
that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was always intended to be a
Holocaust museum, is still, and, if Gail Asper has any say, always will
be. Asper and her hand-picked trustees refuse to contemplate that the
mass murder of anyone else has the same significance to the world as
That, to them, justifies having a separate Holocaust gallery, with all
the other genocides in history lumped together in a "mass atrocity"
They specifically reject the argument by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil
Liberties Association that the crimes of the Communists (specifically
the Holodomor, the state-sponsored famine that killed millions) equal
or surpass the crimes of the Nazis, and that neither should have
special status in the museum.
The Holocaust gets "a place in the front seat" (and all other genocides
must ride in the back of the bus), railed the Winnipeg Free Press.
Why? "Only the uninformed ask questions like that." sniffed the FP
To buttress their
argument, the Asperites have wrapped themselves in the cloak of
"The problem with the
CMHR is it is mired in the politics of Canadian ethnic identity rather
than rooted in the scholarly study of genocide, Holocaust and human
rights. Subjective feelings are influencing content and design choices
rather than objective historical and legal reality..."
wrote the museums's newest defender Catherine Chatterley, the founding
director of something called the Canadian Institute for the Study of
Someone who knows about the scholarly study of genocide is Michael
Marrus, a professor emeritus of Holocaust studies at the University of
Toronto, and a consultant during the museum's planning phase. He can't be dismissed as
"uninformed" by the Free Press.
He's written six books on
the Holocaust and related subjects, including Vichy France
and the Jews (1981), with Robert O. Paxton, The Unwanted: European
Refugees in the Twentieth Century (1985), The Holocaust in History
(1987) and The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial 1945-46: A Documentary
As a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he has been a visiting
fellow of St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and the Institute for Advanced
Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a visiting professor
at UCLA and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
As they say in French, not too shabby.
Last week, Prof. Marrus
distanced himself from the CMHR, both on its corrosive effect on the
unity of Canadian ethnic groups and on the alleged scholarship that the
Asper family relies upon to put the Holocaust first, above all other
He spoke to the National Post:
This is supposed to be a human rights museum and it has started off by
being highly divisive. The only thing they can do is to start all over.
I am despairing of the whole thing."
They want to promote human rights, to get people active and engaged.
The problem with that is that the museum is not really grounded in the
kind of knowledge historians can agree on," he said.
Marrus said the museum is operating under the belief that the 1948
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a touchstone of the modern human
rights movement, was inspired by the Holocaust.
The museum points to the declaration as evidence that the Holocaust was
somehow the moving force behind the modern human rights movement.
there is very little evidence for this contention. To the contrary, in
the immediate postwar period there still does not seem to have been a
very clear sense about the nature of the Holocaust, and it takes until
the 1960s or ’70s for this to really gel. I think the prominence given
to the Holocaust, however well meaning, is historically incorrect."
With the scholars
starting to dissent from the "truth" as dispersed by CMHR apologists,
we turn this space over to a respected voice of the Jewish community
who wants to comment on the debate:
" I've been
reading your observations about the CMHR with great interest. As a
matter of fact, I have referred to your blog from time in my own
writing on the subject in The Jewish Post & News.
I think you might want to know that, in contrast with Rhonda Spivak, to
whom you referred in your blog on April 4, I have taken a much more
conciliatory view of the disagreement over the proposed content of the
new museum. You might want to read an editorial that I wrote several
weeks ago. It can be read at http://www.jewishpostandnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=52&Itemid=197.
Further, I have attempted to maintain a dialogue with Lubomyr Luciuk of
the Ukrainian Civil Liberties Association. I have printed an article he
wrote arguing for a greater prominence for the Holodomor in the museum.
Mr. Luciuk sent me the following e-mail today:
Thank you for your fair
minded comments on the CMHR controversy and the position that the
Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association has taken. We stand
ready, at any time, to meet with the representatives of the Jewish
Canadian community to discuss our concerns in a true spirit of civility
and mutual respect.
We also want to make
certain that your readers understand that while we want all 12 of the
CMHR's galleries to be thematic, comparative & inclusive, that
does mean, for us, that the Shoah (Holocaust) must be included,
permanently, and we have never suggested otherwise. That there is a
problem with the proposed contents of this taxpayer funded national
institution is true. But if there is a will there is a way to resolve
our concerns, with fairness for all. I hope this genuine offer of
engagement, dialogue and reconciliation will be accepted.
Dr L Luciuk
5 April 2011
I would hope that a compromise that would be acceptable to all parties
might be arrived at, rather than fanning the flames further, as Ms.
Spivak has done. I have agreed with you that, ever since the museum
became a government-funded institution, its original raison d'etre
changed. It is lamentable that something that could have been a
unifying institution now appears to have become a source for disunity.
The Jewish Post & News "
Unfortunately, the signs are the
extremists are taking the debate into territory far uglier than anyone
imagined, from disagreement to outright hate speech.
"Ukrainian group’s postcard paints Jews as pigs" blares the headline in
the Winnipeg Jewish Review.
The story begins:
"WINNIPEG — The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA)
has sent out a postcard to supporters that appears to depict Jewish
backers of a prominent Holocaust gallery in the Canadian Museum for
Human Rights as pigs."
The postcard is a copy of the 1947 Ukrainian edition of George Orwell's
Animal Farm. In the book, the pigs represent Communists who promise
equality, but after they take over, they announce that some are more
equal than others.
The UCCLA asks why, in the publicly funded Candian Museum for Human
Rights, some genocides are more equal than others.
There's no indication anywhere that the pigs in the postcard represent
The Winnipeg Jewish
Review bases its false claim on, guess who, the rant of museum apologist
Catherine Chatterley who wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press:
“Clearly [in the
postcard], the pigs are supporters of the Holocaust gallery, which is
characterized as a vehicle of domination, inequality and exploitation.
The image of the Jew as a pig has a very long and well-established
history in European antisemitism, and, of course it is also a theme in
Islamic antisemitism (Jews are purported to be the descendants of apes
The reference to Islamic antisemitism was seen by some to be a veiled
slap at James Kafieh, the former president of the Canadian Arab
Federation, who has joined the UCCLA's call for a single gallery on
genocide. This didn't go unnoticed on the Internet.
Posted by: LL53
April 6, 2011 at 5:57 AM
protest against the bullying and name-calling being deployed by some in
their failing attempts to silence legitimate public debate over the
proposed contents of the CMHR. That kind of behaviour is unacceptable. For example Dr Chatterley’s
identification of Mr Kafieh as an Arab, whom she then
less-than-subtly associates with those Islamic extremists she says have
spewed falsehoods about Jews being ‘descendants of apes and pigs.’
The truth is that he has never uttered such a calumny, nor would he. He happens to be a Christian and
a Palestinian who has also consistently advocated for the Holocaust
being included in a comparative Genocide Gallery at the
Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Ms Chatterley’s remark about Mr
Kafieh smacks of anti-Semitism. How ironic.
Anita Neville, the Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre, told the
Winnipeg Jewish Review the postcards were "deplorable." The Jewish Review fails to
mention that more than half the Liberal caucus has put their names on a
letter supporting the Ukrainian community's position that
no genocide be given special treatment in the CMHR.
Does this mean Neville
believes her colleagues are deplorable?
The Jewish Review also quoted Dr. Per Rudling, a post-doctoral fellow
at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universitšt, Greifswald, Germany.
"Per Rudling, a scholar of eastern European history who has specialized
in antisemitism in Ukraine and currently teaches at the University of
Greifswald in Germany, said that “the card should be seen against the
background of a significant tolerance of antisemitism in the Ukrainian
So, Rudling says the Ukrainian Canadian community as a whole not only
tolerates antisemitism, but has a "significant tolerance."
that doesn't qualify as hate speech, what does?
The legal definition of hate speech includes:
2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private
conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against and identifiable group
is guilty of
indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
We predicted this in The Black
Rod barely two weeks ago, that the defenders of the CMHR as
a Holocaust museum would resort to blindly accusing anyone who
disagrees with them of anti-semitism to silence them.
That great defender of
human rights, Gail Asper, has done and said nothing to stop the
The first legacy of the "human rights" museum, is a campaign to stifle
free speech and debate.
Her daddy would be so proud.
the wheels on the bus go clunk, clunk, clunk.
Gail Asper, Holodomor, UCCLA