Blog by John Miller

<< back to article list

Armies of the Right

I’ve spent the last week having my heart ripped out by Canada ’s right-wing blogosphere, and it hasn’t been a pretty sight.

My sexual prowess has been questioned, I’ve been accused of being an ageing fossil who doesn’t know how to Google shit, a guilty white man ashamed of my race, an idiot and a pro-censorship traitor to journalism. My qualifications to teach anyone anything anywhere have been mocked in public.

And I realize this stuff will be permanently parked on the Internet to be read, perhaps, by my grandchildren some day.

I blame it all on Ezra Levant.

Canada ’s sawed-off, ultra-right-wing Sultan of Shout likes to wage nuclear war with anyone who dares to hold a reasonable thought in his presence, which means he never has any shortage of material to put up on his half-cocked personal blogging site.

He’s spawned an army of imitators who seem to hang on his every word. He links to scores of “Ezra Lites” like Small Dead Animals, Free Canuckistan, Chucker Canuck, Barrel Strength, Defend Canada , Angry Rough Neck, Just Right, Right as Rain, Right Crazy and Being Right is not Wrong.

Tell me professor: Are they all mean-spirited, reactionary and high-decibel? Why, yes they are! It’s like asking does Mark Steyn seem to enjoy getting under your skin?

Ezra Levant took a disliking to me when we appeared on a panel together on Nov. 1 in Halifax . We were debating “The Media’s Right to Offend: Exploring the Legal and Ethical Limits on Free Speech” and it was a rollicking and lively debate. I enjoyed it and would do it again with him anytime.

I understand Ezra’s ground rules now. He doesn’t fight fair.

My topic was responsible journalism, and how pursuit of the truth and engaging in the discipline of verification were two qualities that give journalism its authority and justify freedom of the press (When I asked Levant if he considers himself to be a journalist, by the way, he wouldn’t answer, but that’s another story).

As an example, I mentioned Maclean’s columnist Mark Steyn’s lack of responsibility in quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, who allegedly said that it’s okay for a man to have sex with animals, as long as he kills them after orgasm and doesn’t feed the meat to his own village. He gave no citation for the quote (CORRECTION: I was wrong. He actually attributed it to Oriana Fallaci) , and I suspect it was made up. The only places I could find it on the Internet were on some right-wing blogsites.

Here’s what Levant wrote on his website about how he decided to strike out at me during the panel discussion:

“I went to Google as Miller was talking and found a ton of references for it … It was pretty sad: an ageing journalism professor, looking down his nose at Steyn and accusing Steyn of sloppiness (and disparaging mere bloggers too), while half the kids in the room could have found what Miller couldn’t in about five minutes on the Net. Some “expert” witness.”

Levant ’s “sock puppets” in the blogosphere took up this refrain, gleefully. Here’s one: “The reality is unfolding even if the establishment are puzzled about why their liberal narrative isn’t universal, and keeps getting sniped by pesky bloggers with other real-world skills and backgrounds. This blogger is a historian, a fact-digger, and a philosophical theologian, used to pondering and listening for the deep issues, and God’s voice and hand. Bloggers are very much part of the future, however old media scrabbles, adapts or reforms. The future is here.”

These people have religion, in other words. Their church is the Internet, and everything on it their gospel, even if it’s only the Gospel According to Wikipedia (to mention one of their more reliable sources).

I checked the references Levant gave me afterwards, and realized it was a staged ambush. None of his 100 links contained the particular quote I was talking about. The link he has on his website to the supposed source, Khomeini’s book Tahrir-ol-vasyleh, contains no mention of that quote. The 1995 collection of Khomeini’s quotes published by Harper’s magazine does not contain it either. When I Googled other paths to finding it, all I came up with was various right-wing blogsites, which are as loose with the facts as their patron saint, Levant .

That sure ain’t journalism. That’s not even the truth. And I can’t see how it’s contributing much good to our society.

The arrogance and hate of the Levantian hordes surprises me. They are shouters, not listeners, and they choose to react by resorting to attack.

I posted on one blog, correcting an inaccuracy about my views, and asked this question: “For my part, it was interesting to look out at the audience and see so many Ezra Levant supporters and know that nothing I said would be even listened to seriously. Judging from the circle that gathered around him afterwards, hanging on every word, you are young, well-educated, articulate, white and very angry about something. I’m curious to know what that something is.”                                     

The blogger answered this way: “I’m angry that Canadians who express their opinions on political and social issues are being punished by being hauled before human rights commissions and, at the very least, forced to pay huge legal fees and, at most, ordered not to express their opinions for the rest of their lives. I’m a Christian and my most deeply held beliefs are ‘pilloried’ all the time, but I live with it. It’s the price of living in a free society.”

That particular blogger was reasonable and polite, but he made me think of the White Power sites on Facebook started two years ago by various “well-meaning” students at Ryerson. Their point was that, in multicultural Toronto , we’re being bombarded by demands from minority groups and it’s time someone stood up for the preservation of white culture. They had no understanding of why that might feel threatening to others, who have stood by while so-called “white culture” had its own way for so long, at their expense.

The new angriness out there, promoted and encouraged by Levant , seems like something we should pay more attention to. It’s more prevalent than we think.

I posted to his blogsite, correcting what he had told the crowd at the Halifax panel as he wielded his laptop at me like a weapon.

So far he’s refused to put it up.

So much for this so-called champion of the unfettered right to freedom of speech.