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Canada is bigger than this

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George Galloway, a long-serving member of Britain's Parliament, was expelled from the Labour party in 2003 for criticizing his own party's leadership and its decision to go to war against Iraq. He now sits in Westminster as the only member of the so-called Respect Party, as gross a misnomer as democratic politics has ever seen.

Galloway is not a respectful man. He is a foolish and hateful man who says foolish and hateful things that appeal to foolish and hateful people. He has referred to Israel as "this little Hitler State on the Mediterranean." He was a virulent opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and thinks that the United States pretty well got what it deserved on 9-11: "Some of you," he told an America audience in 2005, "may believe that those airplanes on Sept. 11 came out of a clear blue sky. I believe they came out of a swamp of hatred created by us."

If by "us" Galloway means the West in general and Americans in particular, he would hardly be alone among Western left-wing intellectuals who seem able to justify any atrocity committed by Islamist terrorists. But he so closely identifies himself with the jihadist cause and Islamist fundamentalism that it is hard to escape the suspicion that by "us" he actually means him and his friends, such as the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein whom he once told: "Sir! I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability... We are with you until victory, until victory in Jerusalem."

Galloway was himself an indefatigable supporter of the Butcher of Baghdad who, in turn, it is widely alleged, rewarded him with profits from the United Nations "oil for food" program in a diversion of aid from the Iraqi people.

George Galloway has been involved in his own personal war against the West and the "little Hitler state" on the Mediterranean for many years. The more he speaks his foolish and hateful thoughts, the more clear it becomes whom he means by "us" and "we."

More recently, the British MP has urged a coup d'etat in Egypt against the government of President Hosni Mubarak because it is too pro-Israel and defended the terrorist activities against Israel by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Because of all this, Galloway has been refused permission to enter Canada by Citizenship and Immigration, which calls him a security risk. He sees this as part of the international conspiracy against him, in this case a subplot led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper who, it seems, "has not cottoned on to the fact that the George Bush era is over."

Galloway, unfortunately, has had a hard time cottoning to the fact of the new era in the Middle East where Saddam is dead, Egypt and Jordan are making nice with Israel and Syria and Lebanon are looking for better, if not actually nice, relations. It is an anti-Semite's nightmare over there.

Galloway himself may not be an anti-Semite -- although if you walk like a Jew-hater and talk like a Jew-hater, the odds are likely that you are a Jew-hater -- but he does associate with anti-Semites extensively. Most of the meetings he attends around the world are organized and run by people dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In Canada he was scheduled to speak at a conference called "Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar," and another similarly themed forum the next day.

But even though Galloway is a foolish and hateful man who preaches foolish and hateful things, that is not enough reason to bar him from speaking in Canada. Hamas may be banned as a terrorist organization in Canada, but it is not a crime yet to support it in one's heart as George Galloway and even many Canadian Muslims do.

As Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff commented, unless the security forces know something about this man that the rest of us don't, we should let him in and hear him: "We let into Canada all kinds of people who say ridiculous and absurd things." For that matter, although Mr. Ignatieff did not say so, there all kinds of Canadians who say ridiculous and absurd things without even going to jail. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney should overrule the ban on Galloway's admission to Canada. This country is bigger than that and we should not make it look small in the eyes of the world.

tom.oleson@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 25, 2009 A12

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