Speaking as someone who stands against anti-Semitism whereever it surfaces, I still don't get why New Black Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz was kept out of the country yesterday and so was unable to address the activist group Black Youth Taking Action.
Such a move by Customs does all the wrong things. For starters, now, the group of young black activists who invited Shabazz feels dismissed, diminished and angry. Second, this is not going to help build relationships between the black and Jewish communities. Many of us are eager to get that conversation going. The best-case scenario would have seen Shabazz come to T.O., address his supporters and respond to questions about anti-Jewish statements he's reported to have made. Such a discussion would have compelled people to think - always a good thing.
Besides, a few years ago, Customs agents did nothing to stop the Reverend Fred Phelps from entering the country. He's the guy who orchestrated the demonstration outside the funeral of Matthew Shepherd, the young man gay-bashed and killed in Wyoming, and carried placards with messages suggesting Shepherd got what he deserved.
Phelps wanted to come to Canada to demonstrate his hostility to Gay Pride on Pride Day - publicly. He was allowed into the country, did his thing and was completely ignored - it was yet another violence-free Pride, but that's another issue.
My point - a guy coming here for the express purpose of fomenting hate was let in. The guy who's express purpose was empowering black youth was kept out.
That's not right.