Categories for Feature

My #MeDo column on #MeToo is over on HuffPo now

Here it is.

And here is a snippet:

I have been resisting #MeToo. I have.

For starters, I am generally pretty unenthusiastic about hashtag campaigns. Most of the time, they are just slacktivism, i.e. the false belief that posting something on social media is enough. It isn’t. Ever.

And, most of the male responses I have seen have been completely idiotic. Stuff like: I have daughters, and now I understand, etc. Or: Sure, but don’t blame me, etc. Or: here’s my own hashtag!

But mostly, I have resisted writing or saying anything about #MeToo because I felt men should just shut the fuck up and listen, for once.

My wife, however, reminded me that I have four million visitors to my website every year, and that I write columns and books, and that I shouldn’t be silent simply because I despise my gender (more on that in a minute), or because I don’t know what to say that has a fraction of the significance of #MeToo.

After some reflection, I decided she is right. As usual.

So.


Recipe For Hate is being featured on Apple’s iBooks!

Check it out: Apple is promoting Recipe For Hate on their iBooks web site!

My ever-patient Dundurn Press publicist, Kendra, says that Apple has decided to promote pre-orders of the book on their Sneak Peaks pages.  A short download of the book is there, too, to encourage folks to check it out.

Is this a big deal? I’m told it is: “iBooks is available in 51 countries. It ranks second in the U.S. for reading devices/reading apps, after Kindle…that’s still a lot of readers you’re missing if you are not publishing on iBooks. In Canada, iBooks is also ranked second, but not to Amazon; Kobo is the number one reading app/device in Canada. In the UK Amazon’s Kindle and iBooks are neck and neck. In Australia, iBooks is the number one reading device. Canada, the UK, and Australia are three English-speaking countries where you are losing sales if you are not publishing on iBooks.”

Among other things, it reminds me (again) that the book business has certainly changed in the 25 years since Unholy Alliances was published: back then, publishers still did big book tours and there were actual book sections in newspapers.  Now, however, book tours have become pretty rare, and book sections have effectively disappeared, too.

In the coming weeks, however, we are going to have an old-fashioned book launch for Recipe For Hate in Toronto, to which you are all invited (see below), there will be book tour-type visits to Ottawa and the West and around T.O. and in the U.S., and there will be lots of events (and if you want me for a speaking event, email me at wkinsella@gmail.com).


I don’t want to be yet another man writing about how #MeToo affects me

I have been resisting #MeToo.  I have.

For starters, I am generally pretty unenthusiastic about hashtag campaigns.  Most of the time, they are just slacktivism – ie., the false belief that posting something on social media is enough.  It isn’t.  Ever.

And, most of the male responses I have seen have been completely idiotic.  Stuff like: I have daughters, and now I understand, etc.  Or: Sure, but don’t blame me, etc.  Or: here’s my own hashtag!

But mostly, I have resisted writing or saying anything about #MeToo because I felt men should just shut the fuck up and listen, for once.  

My wife, however, reminded me that I have four million visitors to this web site every year, and that I write columns and books, and that I shouldn’t be silent simply because I despise my gender (more on that in a minute), or because I don’t know what to say that has a fraction of the significance of #MeToo.

After some reflection, I decided she is right.  As usual.

So.

I have carefully studied many of the #MeToo posts that have been going up – written by my wife, by other women I know and knew.  In many cases, I simply did not know that they had been harassed, or assaulted, or raped by men.  I did not know.

I spoke to my Mom about it, as I do every single day.  She is in her eighties, and she was raised by a single feminist powerhouse, along with six brothers and sisters. She told me things that happened to her when she was young and working at Eaton’s in Montreal.  I did not know those things, either.

So.

To those women, I say: I will not insult you by offering an apology, or by saying I have two amazing daughters and have seen the light, or whatever.  I say: the main reason I resisted responding to #MeToo was because I did not know what I could say, or should say, that would be in any way useful to you.  What could I say to the women who have written searing, disturbing #MeToo stories?  An apology?  A post about how it makes me, a man, feel?  That’s pathetic (and, yet, here I am).

Just as important: what should I say to the men who are supposed to be learning and changing after #MeToo?  What I can I say to them that will change anything? Can they change? Nurture, nature, blah blah blah.

And: what can I say, I remarked to my wife more than once, that does not sound like a man’s typical bullshit response to what women tell us about our behaviour – ie., self-interested, self-justifying, self-centred, self-indulgent, utterly selfish?  What can I say that does not sound like an excuse?

So.

My wife is a known and active feminist.  She gets death and rape threats for that on a regular basis.  (I think she – and not yet another did-nothing, do-nothing NDP guy – should run in Ward 32, but that’s a story for another day.) She  knows part of my reluctance to say anything, too, relates to this: as noted above, I think my gender is responsible for most of the misery in the world.

It is, boys.  Most criminals are we men.  The FBI keeps statistics.  They say that:

  • Males constituted 98.9% of those arrested for forcible rape
  • Males constituted 87.9% of those arrested for robbery
  • Males constituted 85.0% of those arrested for burglary
  • Males constituted 83.0% of those arrested for arson.
  • Males constituted 81.7% of those arrested for vandalism.
  • Males constituted 81.5% of those arrested for motor-vehicle theft.
  • Males constituted 79.7% of those arrested for offenses against family and children.
  • Males constituted 77.8% of those arrested for aggravated assault

Why have I come to so dislike my gender?  Those statistics, above, are partly why.  Those, and the fact that men are the ones who commit 91 per cent of the murders.  And the fact that men are ten times more likely to be inmates.  And this fact: men start wars, much more than women do.  (I don’t have statistics on that one, but anyone who would dispute the historical evidence is an idiot.)

So.

I have written before about why I think it is inadvisable for any man to declare himself a feminist, like Justin Trudeau does so often, hashtaggy.  Become a better man, first.  Become a better father or son or brother. Only then should your application to be promoted to “feminist” be considered.

And, even after the hashtag hordes have moved on to other causes, #MeToo still tugs at me.  It won’t let me go.  It haunts.  Lisa, too: she sent me this list of things I can do, and it’s a pretty good list.  You should read it, too. Better yet: act on it.

So.

I wanted to conclude this with the typical columnist’s flourish: a pithy, punchy, perceptive O. Henry-style ending.  (I love the challenge of those.) Something that captures the near-bottomless depth of my shame and self-loathing, and my simultaneous pledge to learn and do better.  Something that ties it all together.

But I don’t have anything.  Men are going to move on from Weinstein, just like they moved on from Ghomeshi, just like they moved on from whatever came before him.  Something else will come up.  And I will dislike my gender ever more.

Here, however, is a promise: I will try and guide my sons to be better men. I will confront manifestations of gender-based hate, on whatever platform I possess.  And I will endeavour to do better, and be better, until my last day.

That’s not #MeToo, but it’s #MeDo.

(For men who are interested, it’s #WeDo, too.)

 

 


Column: when do you cease to be a country?

She’s on the bus! The second she pulls down that veil, arrest her!

When do you cease to be a country?  When do you stop being a people, a nation?

Romeo LeBlanc, who I loved, had an answer.  “When children sleep on the streets,” he said to us once.  “When they have nothing to eat.  That is when you are no longer a country, and when you become something else.”

Romeo said that to those of us in the Liberal Party war room in 1993.  Back then, Conservative leader Kim Campbell had been asked by a reporter about an apparent Tory plan to gut social programs.  “An election is no time to discuss serious issues,” she was quoted as saying.

LeBlanc, like the rest of us in the war room, had been angry.  The statistics – the recent ones in particular – suggest that that, on any given night, 35,000 Canadians sleep on the streets.  Children are among them.  And, every year, more than a quarter million people are forced to use homeless shelters at least once.

All of us under LeBlanc’s leadership agreed with him: when one child is hungry, and sleeping on a grate on a downtown sidewalk in February, you aren’t a real country yet.  You are something else.  Something less.

In 2017, if we think about it, there are too many other examples like that.  Ways in which we fall short.

In the United States, of course, there is plenty of that. Donald Trump – who has been shown to be, again and again, a liar and a racist and a coward and a pig – has remade America.  His executive decisions and his policies have made the air and the water dirtier.  He has barred women and children seeking refuge from famine and torture and death.

He has pushed laws that will make the super-rich richer, and leave everyone else to bear the burden.  He said he will build a wall to keep out Mexicans, who he calls rapists and murderers.  He has worked to eviscerate a program that made health care affordable for 30 million Americans who previously had none.

If Romeo LeBlanc were still here, he would say that any one of those things have not just rendered the United States of America less of a country – they have ended it.  But he’d probably say that Canadians shouldn’t start feeling all that superior to our neighbours to the South, either.

So, last week, Quebec’s government nudged us towards the abyss.  Their Bill 62, you see, makes illegal the wearing of niqabs or burkas by women offering or receiving public services.  The target, notwithstanding what Quebec’s allegedly Liberal government claims, is Muslim women.  A previous version of the law would have banned the display of any religious symbols by public servants – crucifixes by Christians, yarmulkes by Jews, turbans by Sikhs.

Justin Trudeau, to his credit, has denounced such racist laws in the past – but has yet to do anything about it in the present.  So too new NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who has been clear in his opposition.  The Conservatives, meanwhile, had wanted to pass a raft of similarly Islamophobic “laws.”  But they were voted out of office before they could get away with it.

Speaking of the Conservatives, they contributed to the diminution of Canada last week, too.  They announced that someone named Hamish Marshall was going to run their next federal campaign.

Why would such a thing hurt Canada?  Because Marshall helped to found, and fund, an avowedly racist media organization called Rebel.  Rebel achieved notoriety, in recent weeks, for publishing statements that their luminaries were “sick of” Holocaust “brainwashing.”  And: “much less than six million” were slaughtered in the Holocaust.

And: “left-wing, commie, socialist Jews” killed “millions” in World War II’s aftermath.  And: columns titled “Ten Things I Hate About Jews.”  And: at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville where a woman was murdered by a white supremacist, one Rebel celebrity said there has been a “rising” in what she called “white racial consciousness.”

The aforementioned Hamish Marshall ran Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s campaign out of Rebel’s offices.  And, when a Globe and Mail reporter asked Scheer about that, he ran away.  He actually ran away.

Finally – and this we must never forget – we cease to be much of a nation when 4,232 First Nation women and girls are murdered, or go missing.  And when the federal government spends untold millions to launch an inquiry into those murders – and it becomes such a sham, such a mockery of justice, that the father of Trudeau’s Justice minister (himself a hereditary chief) calls it “a bloody farce.”

There are other examples, but we don’t have any more room to describe them.

And if he were still here, perhaps Romeo LeBlanc would say we still don’t have much of a country, either.

2017: good times.

 


“The Charter protects all Canadians, every one of us, even when it is uncomfortable.”

Justin Trudeau said that, back in July, when he was asked about his government paying $10 million to Omar Khadr.  It’s a quote: “The Charter protects all Canadians, everyone of us, even when it is uncomfortable.”

And here’s what Justin Trudeau said three months later, when the Quebec Legislature passed a racist law, a “law” that everyone agrees targets Muslim women: “It’s not up to the federal government to challenge this.”  That’s a quote, too.

Stirring words about the Charter back then, mealy-mouth cowardice now.  What’s changed?

Well, time has gone by.  To be sure.  In that time, the planet’s leading Islamophobe, Donald Trump, has made serial attempts to pass similarly anti-Muslim laws.  During that time, however, Justin Trudeau has made clear he disagrees with Trump. “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” he tweeted, the first time Trump tried to bar refugees from Muslim countries.

In recent months, too, expressions of hatred targeting Muslims (and Jews, and others) has surged in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.  Right around the time Trudeau was giving everyone a civics lesson about the Constitution, in fact, Statistics Canada revealed that hate crimes against Muslims had exploded by 60 per cent, when compared to previous years.  The problem has gotten worse, not better.

So, Trudeau’s whiplash-inducing reversal on the applicability of the Charter to difficult cases isn’t because of (a) the passage of time, or (b) because things have gotten any easier for Muslims.  No, it has to be something else.

All it can be, of course, is this: seats.  Quebec has 78, and Justin Trudeau won 40 of them in 2015.  He thinks that, if his government challenges the National Assembly’s indisputably racist law, he’ll lose some or all of those seats.  That’s the only reason he isn’t matching his previously-inspiring words with action.

Talk minus action equals zero, one of my Canadian punk rock friends like to say, and that is what Justin Trudeau and his government presently amount to: zero.

Either you believe in the Constitution, or you don’t.  Either you believe people have an inalienable right to peacefully express their deepest religious views, or you don’t.  Either you are against hatred, or you aren’t.

You know what makes me want to puke about all this?  It’s that, in the months he has been in power, not even a racist like Donald Trump has dared to pass a law telling women what they can wear.  Not even him.

I am so disgusted by the federal Liberal Party – by its gutlessness, by its venality, by its dishonesty – that words (almost) fail me.

Oh, and for you Liberals who are moved to write in, and defend what Justin Trudeau has done because of politics: don’t bother.  Because, when a veil-wearing Muslim Mom with two little kids is kicked off a Quebec City bus in January, when it is forty below, your fucking bullshit about “politics” isn’t going to keep her and her kids very warm, is it?  No, it isn’t.

Somewhere, this morning, Donald Trump is reading his clippings, and nodding.

“Attaboy, Justin,” he’s saying.  “Attaboy.”


Recipe For Hate is out!

Was just at Dundurn Press (and I’m now at the Patrician Grill to celebrate, where else) and they gave me a pile of copies of my new book, Recipe For Hate – and the good folks there told me that they’ve received a historically-huge order of the book from the US!

Off to the Windsor Bookfest tomorrow, and also to teach a creative writing class at Windsor’s Walkerville Collegiate! Hope to see you there. 

Here we go!


Would you invite a neo-Nazi to your house? (Updated! Happy ending!)

Of course you wouldn’t.

But Ontario’s three main political parties did. A committee comprised of all the main parties in the Ontario Legislature have given Canada’s leading white supremacist an opportunity to speak to them about abortion.

I’m not making this up.

Paul Fromm is one of the most notorious haters on the planet. A sampling of his past:

• He is director of the Council for Conservative Citizens, which the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes as a white supremacist group

• He has been a host of a show on the neo-Nazi platform Stormfront, which is run by the former leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

• He was a founder of both the Edmund Burke Society and the Western Guard, racist groups which morphed into the Ku Klux Klan in Canada

• He has been filmed speaking at an event honouring the Order, a homicidal neo-Nazi Aryan Nations offshoot, at which he led a crowd shouting “Sieg Heil!,” “white power,” “Hail The Order!,” and “nigger, nigger, nigger, out out out,” while performing the Nazi salute

And, now, Ontario’s Liberals, Conservatives and NDP have asked him too speak about the planned abortion clinic “bubble zone” law.

Seriously. They did that.

If you want to oppose this, you can email Kathleen Wynne, who I know will be appalled by this rank stupidity. Patrick Brown and Andrea Horwath, too. Their emails are:

• kwynne.mpp@liberal.ola.org
• patrick.brownco@pc.ola.org
• ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca

Raise your voice. That is the only way to fight hate – and to educate those who should know better.

UPDATE: I am told Patrick Brown just got Fromm kicked out.  Well done!


Dear Conservative readers of this web site 

It’s been several hours, and I still think this is the stupidest political move I’ve seen in months – and that’s saying something. Why, you ask?

  • The Conservatives are tying themselves to every crazy/offensive thing Rebel does between now and the election. And, believe me: there’ll be plenty.
  • The Conservatives are fulfilling a Liberal prophecy about them: namely, that their new leader really is a nutty SoCon who is beholden to the alt-Right.
  • The Conservatives have taken, and will take, a massive hit for a “strategist” who could only eke out a razor-thin win for Scheer, after 13 ballots, no less. What has he ever done, in effect, beside creating a platform for the racist alt-Right in Canada?

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of Messrs. Trudeau and Singh dancing a jig, still astonished by their continuing good luck.

Blandy Scheer: still making Joe Clark look good.