Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Human rights always an issue

Alleged attack on Jewish girl -- and support -- heighten urgency

  • Print

The 15-year-old Winnipeg boy accused of an attack against a Jewish girl has supporters on the Internet. Since you can find people online who believe Elvis is alive and Hitler merely misunderstood, this is not an epiphany.

It is a strong argument this country needs the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Religious or ethnically based violence and hatred have no place here or elsewhere. When it occurs and when it is publicly supported we are reminded why the past and its repercussions can't be forgotten.

Related Items

It seems Facebook has become our culture's town square, a collection of rumour, inanity, misinformation and occasional brilliance. It is popular with the young, free from the hardships of earning a living and more inclined to instantly share their likes, dislikes and YouTube videos.

The accused allegedly set fire to a female student's hair after uttering an anti-Semitic remark. It is possible he will face hate-crime charges. He is pictured on his Facebook page wearing a sweatshirt proclaiming he loves "haters." This seems a case of misery loving company.

As two Free Press reporters revealed in Tuesday's paper, some teens have been vocal in their support of the boy.

"None of it was true," wrote one girl of the alleged incident.

"He told me he burned her hair as a joke. But like barely any like maybe a centimeter (sic) of her hair," said a second, adding "I think its (sic) so dumb that their (sic) pressing charges."

"HA we heard about that at Glenlawn," wrote a boy, "... apparently it was a hate crime because he said something that was anti-Semitic before doing it."

"HE DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING F**K," wrote girl No. 1. "I hate her (the alleged victim) because shes (sic) a bitch nothing more to it."

What elevates the exchanges to public debate is the allegation this was a hate crime. The B'nai Brith denounced the alleged attack as proving "the durability of anti-Semitism." Tuesday afternoon, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations also condemned the incident.

"Canadians -- Muslims and non-Muslims -- stand united in our condemnation of this alleged anti-Semitic attack and all crimes motivated by xenophobia and hatred," a CAIR-CAN statement read. "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us."

On Tuesday afternoon, the CMHR held its first annual public meeting. The museum project has been mired in controversy since its inception. Open loathing has been expressed toward the Asper family, their religious community and the assumed inequities between the proposed depictions of the Holocaust and other atrocities.

In fact, anti-Semitism has dogged the museum since the day Izzy Asper first conceived of the project.

Some of the public concerns were valid. Our tax dollars are contributing to this project. There needs to be accountability. Other complaints have their genesis in ignorance or the reflexive reaction of naysayers to visionaries who insist this city can be an inspiration to others.

Few can logically argue against the value of a human rights museum as an entity, leaving aside opinions on public funding and the perceived import given to any number of atrocities.

"Canadians expect us to get it right," museum president Stuart Murray said Tuesday afternoon.

We do. We can't forget. We can't forget the Holocaust, the Holodomor, residential schools or remote communities with no running water. We win nothing by denouncing an attempt to shine a light on the atrocities of the past in an attempt to lead us to a better future.

If we don't, we should always remember the rasp of a disposable lighter as a teenage boy sets fire to the hair of a Jewish girl. And then we should anticipate the cries of approval from the misguided and the truly evil.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2011 B1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

Comments are not accepted on this story because they might prejudice a case before the courts.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Ed Tait try not to bleeping cry over the woesome Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.
  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Poll

Do you support Pimicikamak First Nation's protest against Manitoba Hydro?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google