No shame in Shabazz fight
Andrew Cash's article on the controversy surrounding the invitation extended to Malik Zulu Shabazz by Black Youth Taking Action (NOW, May 17-23) tries to apportion blame for a "dismal day in Toronto." Everybody, it seems, did something wrong, including the Jewish community.
Cash opines that "no one gets to hold their head very high today."
Let's be clear. Our opposition to Mr. Shabazz's appearance in Toronto had nothing to do with communal muscle-flexing or paternalistic interference in the plans of another community or disagreement with the issues that impelled BYTA to organize its rallies in the first place.
It had everything to do with our responsibility as an advocacy organization to speak out forcefully against the anticipated arrival of a man who has a public record of speech viewed as hateful by many in the Jewish community. No regrets, Mr. Cash. We hold our heads high today.
Vice-Chair Community Relations Committee Canadian Jewish Congress Toronto
What is all the fuss about? The fuss is about Jewish organizations that are unconditionally committed to Israel, warts and all, preventing a black group in Toronto from hosting a black activist from the U.S., warts and all.
B'nai Brith calls itself a "human rights organization" and, together with the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), is a mainstay of the pro-Israel lobby. Even Jews in Toronto who feel duty-bound to subject the state of Israel to enlightened criticism and protest have felt the wrath and the venom of B'nai Brith and the CJC.
The tragedy is that, thanks to the real misconduct of Israel and of the pro-Israeli government lobby, ordinary, rank-and-file Jewish people in Toronto are experiencing real anti-Semitism.
Ghosts civil rights forgot
Having endured slavery, oppression and discrimination themselves, many Jews felt a moral obligation to participate in the American civil rights movement. Possibly the best-known example is that of activists Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. They, along with black youth James Earl Chaney, were killed in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan while on their way to help register black voters in Mississippi. Malik Zulu Shabazz and his ilk would do well to remember the sacrifice made by these young men on their behalf the next time they preach about the evils of "the Jew."
Org's anti-racism skin deep?
In all honesty, I had never heard of Malik Zulu Shabazz before last week.
And though I fully appreciate the distinction between opposition to a political movement (anti-Zionism) and racial discrimination (anti-Semitism), for all I know Shabazz may be a full-fledged bigot.
Here's what else I know. The late, unlamented (and white) Reverend Jerry Falwell was both pro-Zionist and anti-Semitic. He claimed, for example, that "the Antichrist is a living Jewish male." For all I know, it could be me!
But seriously, did B'nai Brith ever try to use its bullying tactics to keep Falwell out of Canada? I don't think so.
Its U.S. counterpart, the Anti-Defamation League, recently issued a news release lamenting the death of Falwell, a "true friend of Israel."
Perhaps B'nai Brith Canada's commitment to fighting discrimination is also only skin deep.
Giving AGO the gears
I know that your paper has been following Toronto's notable new buildings and design competitions, and while I don't always agree with your point of view, you have generally tried to focus on architectural value.
Tom Fischer's article on the AGO addition construction, however, (NOW, May 10-16) was petty and ignorant. Does he really have nothing better to complain about than the inconveniently noisy construction? Frankly, I sympathize with the police constable who was "irritated" by Fischer's insistent complaints.
Isn't this the kind of NIMBY attitude that NOW is fond of mocking when it comes from suburbanites or condo dwellers?
Please cover the news rather than turning NOW into a forum for people to bitch about their neighbours.
RE Trevor Manson's letter about city bylaw officers ticketing Kensington Market merchants while letting merchants in Chinatown East block sidewalks (NOW, May 10- 16).
To answer your question, Trevor, no one at City Hall gives a damn about Chinatown East. No one at City Hall gives a flying fuck about the Chinatown that sits right beside the Market.
Kensington Market is being targeted because of its marketability (pun definitely intended).
The financial possibilities that could come with gentrification (increased property taxes, tourism dollars, real estate, etc.) are too real for the city to ignore.
RE St. James Town jackhammer horror (NOW, May 17-23). Why do these tenants feel they have the right to sue their landlord over some overextended balcony repair?
I lived for two years on Prince Arthur, just west of Yorkville. My rent was astronomical, but I chose to live there (regretting it now). For nearly the entire first year, I had to live with construction ropes dangling, jackhammers rattling not to mention construction workers randomly popping up on my balcony every day.
The property management company said the repairs would take three months, but they lasted a lot longer. St. James Town residents are just being crybabies.
NOW's newsfront item on the Toronto leg of the Global Marijuana March in Queen's Park May 5 (NOW, May 10-16) reminded me of an event I just read about in Before The Gold Rush, by Nicholas Jennings, on the music scene in Toronto in the 1960s.
Forty years ago, on May 22, 1967, a Toronto version of a love-in took over Queen's Park. More than 4,500 listened to the music of Leonard Cohen and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Many smoked pot, and some tried the new thing, smoking banana peels.
Perhaps some of the people who were at that love-in will make it to the Summer Of Love re-creation in Yorkville Park on June 2, part of the Luminato festival, and there will be no need to chant, "Close our street."
Warner's wide-angle weeny
So Warner Brothers wishes to penalize Canada for the act of bootlegging (NOW, May 10-16) by releasing its movies two days after their U.S. release.
Really? I liken this to the drug trade, where the cops go after the user and rarely the dealer.
This problem has to be addressed at the theatre level by having door staff, as at concerts, check for recording devices.
Those theatres found not complying should be the ones getting new releases two days after everyone else.
Bribe money for NIMBYs
RE The hex on heritage (NOW, may 3-9). In my opinion, section 37, which is supposed to provide neighbourhoods with amenities, is all about moneyed developers paying off residents groups to screw communities.
SAC bad seed in garden plot
RE No grow furor at U of T (now, May 10-16). Caroline Xia, who founded Food for All Organic Community Garden at U of T, is the finest grassroots social activist I have ever met.
She successfully lobbied U of T to establish the social-justice-oriented garden.
She dedicated nine years of her life to the anti-poverty, equitable gardening movement on U of T campus. It is tragic that U of T's Student Administrative Council has failed to properly acknowledge her outstanding contributions.
Blinded by the fight
RE Seeing red over ribbon (now, May 3-9). You've fielded a few scathing letters from my cohorts in Emergency Services about our Support Our Troops ribbons. But I would like to offer you a little support.
As operators of public property, we have an obligation to accept public criticism for the vehicles we operate.
Our management acted with good intentions, but I remember when the ribbons were put on our vehicles, my partner and I shared concern about the decision and resentment that we were not consulted.
There needs to be more discussion, if anything, about the Afghanistan mission, and your article helped to create a lot of important dialogue.
Name withheld by request
RE Sustainability sacrifice (NOW, April 26-May 2). Letter-writer John Cooper's suggestion that NOW go exclusively online to save paper and the environment is a step in the direction of denying information to the poor. Not everyone has the money for Internet access. Not a good idea.
I thought it was the job of media to bring to the public stories based on truth, presented in a relatively unbiased, honest manner. Instead, I had to sit through Riding Roughshod (NOW, April 26-May 2) and wonder in utter disbelief at how you could even print something like that without its being an April Fool's joke.
Your article is nothing short of blubbering uninformed idiocy. You apparently have no concern for the work that has been done with the city to make trails in Crothers' Flats challenging, safe and, most importantly, ecologically sustainable. As the owner of one of the largest mountain-bike-oriented websites in Canada, I can safely say as one media source to another: get a goddamned clue. At least Savage Love is still worth reading.