Friday, August 26, 2011

David Menzies Shows How Fast Racist Lies Travel The World

Racist code words and lies, Menzies is an excellent
example of "objective journalism."
I was sent an article this morning from August 5, written by a freelance journalist named David Menzies, detailing his "shocking" experience of not only being assaulted by some hijab wearing Muslim women but then, to add insult to injury, the police wouldn't even charge them with assault.

According to Menzies he was paying a little visit to Dundas Square one Saturday and decided to take some pictures of the locale - he lives in Richmond Hill. Suddenly some hijab wearing women - some in "full burqas" rushed up to him insisting that he not take their picture. He told them that he was in a public square in a democracy, he could take pictures of whomever he wanted. That's when she punched him in the face and tried to steal his camera! But then those damn police, made soft from drinking too deeply the ideology of multiculturalism, listened to both sides of the story - and even excoriated him for his picture taking - before refusing to lay charges. Can you believe it?

That's the story, more or less, as it's being carried on news sites around the world - and far-right websites, like "Gates of Vienna" (popular with the guy who killed 70-odd kids in Norway earlier this month). And it's the story that was carried in the Toronto Sun - written by Menzies himself.

Now, call me a conspiracy theorist but I immediately smelled bullshit. There were too many of the typical code words, plus the sneering tone whenever the question of Muslims came into the discussion. So, I decided to look a little deeper into this Menzies dude, about whom I'd never heard previously. And what do you know, sure enough he's a right wing nutter who makes his living writing for every right wing rag in the country - the National Post, the Sun, and a now defunct publication called The Western Standard. The Western Standard - still available online - was started by Ezra Levant, one of the founders of The Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance (I actually debated him on-air once on the Judy Rebick/Clare Hoy show Face-Off). Levant is a vile, far right individual whose most recent claim to fame was to coin the phrase "ethical oil" as the particular spin he would use to promote the deeply unethical Alberta Tar Sands.

The Western Standard was not only a big promoter of "western separation" and "western alienation" - those bugaboos of every right wing blowhard west of the Alberta border. It also made its name as the only English language publication to reproduce the deeply offensive "Muhammad cartoons" originating from Denmark, which insulted the founder of the Muslim religion. Now, you may think that this is an issue of "freedom of speech" - I say that it's incitement and that it would never be tolerated were the shoe on the Christian foot. Imagine, after the scandal about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, if newspapers had printed cartoons of Jesus sodomizing young boys. Do you think that would be a fair response? Do you think that it would ever happen? Unlikely. And the broader point is Menzies association with far-right publications and Islamophobia.

Menzies is also a regular guest on the Michael Coren show on the Crossroads Television System, which is a Christian TV station, based out of Hamilton. Coren, also a columnist in The Western Standard, is renowned for his ultra-conservative views on women, gays & lesbians and, you guessed it, Muslims. Menzies also appears regularly on the John Oakley show - Oakley is another opponent of same sex marriage and uses his radio show as a platform for Rob Ford's lies and rants.

Menzies whose temper has apparently almost gotten him in trouble with the cops more than once is also has a minor obsession with debunking the climate change myth. He made a name for himself by not merely refusing to turn off his lights for Earth Hour but renting Hollywood lights for his front yard. As he describes it, climate change is a communist conspiracy (not that far from the opinion of Stephen Harper, actually):

Menzies, a regular contributor to the John Oakley and Charles Adler shows on AM 640 and on Michael Coren's TV show, relishes sticking it to the global-warming-gurus who he believes have been blowing environmental Armageddon smoke for years.

"All it is, is income and wealth distribution propagated by former Communists and socialists looking for something to do," he said of the movement.

"What's it called this week? Climate change? Next it will be global icing."

All of which is to say that his narrative – and his enthusiasm to spread this story far and wide – is deeply suspect. Just look at the kind of giveaway stuff in the story – complaints about Toronto being too "culturally sensitive", the Muslim women are "hysterical", the men are a "mob", "was I in Toronto or Riyadh", some of them were (shock!) speaking Arabic. And, the kicker: "The fact that we have Islamists living amongst us who despise western values isn't news..." Oh, western values like same sex marriage and the right to abortion, David?

Menzies claims that he just "happened" to snap a photo, he didn't even notice that there were women wearing hijabs nearby. Oh no, those crazy Muslims see a camera – and if you go to Dundas Square on a Saturday there are hundreds of people with cameras – and they go completely bonkers! You see, they don't have cameras in the Middle East. Oh, wait, what about all those pictures and videos coming out of Syria and Egypt, et al to document the human rights abuses of their governments?

Or maybe this renowned Muslim hating dirtbag was snapping photos of these women to demonstrate the decline of our civilization for allowing them to exist and they objected. But Menzies thinks he can do whatever he wants: "This is a democracy and I can take pictures of whomever I please." Actually, no you can't. People have a right to privacy and to not have their picture taken. It seems highly likely that he made some more racist comments, increasing the tension in the situation and the woman made a grab for his camera. Even the cops obviously thought he was a crank with one of them "miffed that I was (legally) taking photos in the first place" and, having spoken to the woman, refused to press charges. The only thing notable about this non-event is that it not only made a major newspaper in Toronto but that it has now gone around the world in seven league boots. So much for the "culturally sensitive" bologna. I would only add that it is particularly odious that Menzies engaged in this kind of Muslim-baiting in the days following the massacre in Norway that was driven by a hatred of Muslims.

Postscript: Unfortunately for the "western values-hating" Muslims our much-vaunted freedom of the press doesn't include providing them with access to a half-page column in the Toronto Sun to give their side of the story.
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