http://www.nationalpost.com/network.asp?f=990828/Letters Unholy alliance | Sol Littman Letters | National Post (firstname.lastname@example.org) | August 28, 1999
Re: Illegal Aliens Should be Sent Back, Aug. 24.
Diane Francis ends her diatribe on immigration and immigrants with the self-serving comment: “It’s really that simple and has nothing to do with bigotry.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and has a great deal to do with bigotry. Take her unfortunate alliance with Paul Fromm and his “Canada First Immigration Reform Committee.” No one in Canada has a clearer record of unvarnished bigotry than Mr. Fromm in his various incarnations. Mr. Fromm was still in college when he invented the ultra-conservative Edmund Burke Society. When that didn’t go well, he joined the openly fascist, swastika-sporting Western Guard.
Realizing that openly fascist groups won little consideration from Canadians, Mr. Fromm invented a series of front groups with seemingly respectable names such as Canadian Association for Free Expression and “Foreign Aid Reform.” Despite their bland titles, all of them sought to exploit the anxiety some Canadians feel about immigration. He has fought mightily for the right to free expression for Holocaust-deniers such as Ernst Zundel and racists such as James Keegstra. In the presence of a gang of young skinheads he shouted “Scalp ’em!” at native leader A. R. Bobiwash during a meeting at Toronto’s city hall. He was removed as a teacher by the Peel Board of Education because of his repeated appearances at racist rallies and memorials. None of this can be shrugged off with the claim that Mr. Fromm is being punished for a lack of “political correctness.” Nor can he claim that he is being unfairly labelled a racist. As for Ms.
Francis, her insistence that anyone who arrives in Canada uninvited should be sent back automatically without a hearing or a chance to prove their worthiness, is dangerously wrong. We look back in scorn at those Swiss officials who shouted, “The lifeboat is full” and refused entry to Jews fleeing Hitler. We look back with shame at our refusal to allow the passengers of the ship St. Louis to find shelter in Canada. On the other hand, we look back with pride at our rescue of thousands of Vietnamese from the refugee camps of South Asia. Let’s be honest. Canada does not admit immigrants because of our greatness of heart. We invite them to settle here because we need them. We recruited peasants from eastern Europe because we needed them to work our farms, mines and lumber mills. We invite Chinese because we benefit from their entrepreneurship and scientific scholarship.
Ms. Francis has taken a dangerous course in trying to buttress her argument by identifying with a man with a dubious ideology. One cannot help but remind her of the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Which way are you flying, Ms. Francis? Sol Littman, Canadian representative, Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Toronto.
Sept.1 1999 Letter to the Editor
Dear Sir: Sol Littman’s attack on Diane Francis and myself is sadly typical of the name calling and guilt by association that for far too long have stifled intelligent debate about immigration in this country. Cries of “racist” or “fascist” have all too often passed for arguments to silence all but the bravest. Just to set the record straight. Yes, in the late 1960s, I was a founder of the Edmund Burke Society. I proudly plead guilty. We were able to learn from older people of various races who’d had terrible experiences with communism.
Thus, while many of my contemporaries were idolizing Mao and Castro and Ho Chi Minh, we were urging strong opposition to communism. We popularized one of Burke’s sterling insights into human behaviour: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” As for the “swastika-sporting” Western Guard, I was never a member. Indeed, when the Edmund Burke Society ceased to exist and split into a number of new entities, I publicly disassociated myself from those who went in the Western Guard direction. Moving on to my later political activities, Mr. Littman seems to find support for freedom of speech a subtle form of “fascism.” As a person who has boasted of his success in driving political opponents off Canadian web service providers, Littman may be a poor judge of the meaning of freedom of speech. However, while the Canadian Association for Free Expression has supported the rights to free speech of Ernst Zundel and Malcolm Ross, we have also supported the metric rebels, including Jack Halpert who happened to be Jewish, and the right of adult Canadians to read the literature of their choice without censorship by Canada Customs.
In that regard, we’ve publicly defended Vancouver’s Little Sisters Bookstore during their outrageous ordeal of harassment by Canada Customs. The last time I consulted a popular history book, freedom of speech wasn’t a very prominent feature of fascist societies. Indeed, two years ago I was dismissed by the Peel Board of Education after a 24-year teaching career. Ironically, one of the accusations made against me was that I had organized a free speech conference in Vancouver, keynoted by the late Pat Burns who brought talk radio to that city. My activities, I was told, showed “persistant disregard for multiculturalism and ethnocultural equity” which were “core values of the education system.” This dismissal is the subject of an arbitration grievance brought by my union. Sincerely yours, Paul Fromm Director Canada First Immigration Reform Committee
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