Ann Coulter Runs, Whines, May Sue


Having just told a 17 year old Muslim student at University of Western Ontario to “take a camel” rather than inconvenience the rest by flying on an airplane, American reactionary, Ann Coulter, was scheduled to give a speech at the University of Ottawa on Tuesday March 23.  Thousands of protestors gathered in the rain, outside the Ottawa University building in opposition to the propagation of Coulter’s racist brand of conservatism.

The event very poorly organized by the sponsors and completely overshadowed by large numbers of protestors. At the last second Coulter’s entourage decided to cancel the speech.  They claimed that the cancellation was due to “security concerns”; a curious excuse, given that the protestors were located outside of the building and were demonstrating peacefully.  Her reactionary supporters responded by marching out of the building, fists clenched in the air, screaming “commies off campus”.

Coulter claims that the cancellation makes her a “victim of hate crime” and is threatening to legal action against the University.  In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, and without a trace of irony, Coulter asks “I would like to know when this sort of violence has been inflicted upon a Muslim”.

The Coulterites, mobilized in record time, are now trying to put a “freedom of speech” spin on the whole situation.  "We live in a country where there is a real battle for free speech," said Canadian Lawyer Douglas Christie, general counsel for the Canadian Free Speech League. "There’s really no restriction on liberal free speech." 

Former Conservative Member of Parliament, Monte Solberg wrote in the Toronto Sun that “frankly a university is the last place you want people hearing other points of view” and that students set out to prove they oppose free speech by “immediately set(ing) out to prove by blocking her(Coulter) from speaking at the University of Ottawa”. Solberg condescendingly berates the student protesters by arguing that “they don’t realize that ultimately the judgment of history always sides with free speech”.

Lawyer Ezra Levant, commented to the Ottawa Sun newspaper that “at a university, instead of free speech, (there is) censorship”. Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, Levant, who is touring with Coulter across Canada, wrote that “ancient academic ideals of free discourse had been replaced with conformity, political correctness, censorship — and even the threat of criminal prosecution” and that “Canada has a free speech problem, and it’s particularly bad on some campuses.”

Another Canadian right-winger, Mark Steyn, argues on the conservative National Post that “this is the pitiful state one of the oldest free societies on the planet has been reduced to, and this is why our free speech campaign matters – because those who preside over what should be arenas of honest debate and open inquiry instead wish to imprison public discourse within ever narrower bounds – and in this case aren’t above threatening legal action against those who dissent from the orthodoxies.”

Coulter’s supporters seem to be forgetting a very important and relevant fact.  It was the poor planning of event organizers that lead to Coulter’s decision to throw a tantrum and cancel her speech.  The Canadian government in no way interfered in her admission into the country; the University provided campus space and accommodated her with security personnel; and the Canadian tax-payer even paid for the presence of many police officers who provided security at the event. 

Some have even taken the lie further.  Writing for the News Blaze website, Lyssa Reinders makes the ludicrous claim that it was the police that shut down the event.  She argues that Coulter’s “appearance was ultimately shut down by the police, who, instead of protecting her and her rights, chose to allow the protesters and rioters to control who is allowed to speak”.

What Coulter’s supporters are decrying is the fact that so many demonstrators were permitted to demonstrate against her speech at the university.  In effect, Solberg, Coulter, Reinders and Levant’s idea of free-speech consists of suspending the freedom to peacefully assemble in protest every time some right-wing zealot decides to make an appearance in Canada.

Free Speech in Canada

Ironically, Canada has quite a history of suppressing free speech.  But the victims of this suppression are never the extreme-right.

Almost exactly 1 year before Coulter’s scheduled appearance, the Canadian government, on the behest of several extremist organizations, denied entry to British parliamentarian George Galloway, who was invited to speak against the Canadian government’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. 

Galloway was denied entry, first on the basis that he was a security threat. Once that argument was shredded to pieces, the Conservative Canadian government argued that Galloway had donated money to Hamas.  Galloway had actually donated money to the Palestinian government, which at the time included Hamas.  Given the Canadian government’s position, one might wonder if the Conservative government considers taxes collected from Canadians as donations made to the Conservative Party of Canada.

Even several days before the scheduled Coulter speech, the Canadian government denied entry to Dr Mustafa Barghouti, invited by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) to give a speech in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.  Dr Mustafa Barghouti is a non-violent Palestinian activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

These examples are just a drop in the bucket.  For years, the Canadian government, at the behest of individuals like Levant and Steyn has been attempting to shut down the Israel Apartheid Week demonstrations and events which are held at Canadian universities.  These events, which were started at the University of Toronto and have now reached a global scale, were denounced, derided and censored by the Provincial and Federal governments.  The speakers at these events have often been kicked out of the country, with no other explanation from the government other than “non-citizens do not have a right to visit; only a privilege”.  This privilege it seems, is only reserved for the extreme right, who argue in favour of the government’s supposed right, to use violence abroad, for ideological purposes.

The stance of the Canadian government against Israel-Apartheid week is befitting perhaps, given that in 2007, the same government denied entry to Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie, for her participation in ANC action against the Apartheid regime.  Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was on her way to Toronto, to give a speech.  She was arrested by airport security and put on a plane back to South Africa, in tears.

When it comes to Coulter, the right hold the Canadian people responsible, for the incompetence and inability of their organization to properly plan an event and for the paranoia and egotism of their prima-donnas.  When it comes to their events, they expect the government to mobilize the police and shut down streets and university campuses.  When it comes to events that they find politically inconvenient, they mobilize their support and lobby the right-wing Canadian government to ban speeches and bar individuals from entering the country.

Canada does have a serious free-speech problem, but it is actually caused and fermented by crypto-fascist hypocrites, like Solber, Steyn and Levant and executed by an extreme-right government.

Poyan Nahrvar lives in Toronto.  He can be reached at skulemail@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st  Century
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?
Ben Debney
Guns, Trump and Mental Illness
Pepe Escobar
The NATO-Russia Face Off in Syria
Yoav Litvin
Israeli Occupation for Dummies
Lawrence Davidson
Deep Poverty in America: the On-Going Tradition of Not Caring
Thomas Knapp
War Party’s New Line: Vladimir Putin is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Brandon Jordan
Sowing the Seeds of War in Uruguay
Binoy Kampmark
Imperilled by Unfree Trade: the TPP on Environment and Labor
John McMurtry
The Canadian Elections: Cover-Up and Steal (Again)
Anthony Papa
Coming Home: an Open Letter to 6,000 Soon-to-be-Released Drug War Prisoners From an Ex-Con
Ramzy Baroud
Listen to Syrians: The Media Jackals and the People’s Narrative
Norman Pollack
Heart of Darkness: A Two-Way Street
Gilbert Mercier
Will Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite Militias Defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
John Stanton
Vietnam 2.0 and California Dreamin’ in Ukraine