Perhaps another case for homeschooling.

MONDAY, MAY 7, 2012

The Toronto District School Board is putting the “cult” back in multiculturalism

I was at a cult meeting last Friday and Saturday. At least it felt that way being in a large hall with over 300 teachers from all over Ontario who were at the Toronto District School Board’s “Futures” conference that was created to discuss and advance ‘equity’ in education.

Let’s be clear about this, there are some very intelligent teachers that are out there every day dealing with the challenges of  providing our children an education that will give them the tools for success in life. But the teachers predisposed towards the type of thought that led them to the Futures conference and the ideas espoused there make those challenges even harder.

Many of these well meaning, muddle-headed educators are people of at best average intelligence who have convinced themselves they are more intelligent, more enlightened, and should be the guardians of thought and speech for everyone else.

Anyone concerned with the direction of public education in Toronto should be aware that:

  • TDSB personnel admit that they intentionally discriminate against Christianity.
  • The TDSB feels we need to focus more on race, and that our system is debased by white privilege. (Although this will come as no surprise given the board has already created a racially exclusionary Afrocentric school and wants to create more.)
  • Anyone who dares to challenge their notion of multiculturalism and questions their idea of integration for immigrants and the direction Canadian culture is taking is a hatemonger.

Hearing the attitudes of some of the people with the authority to decide how our children should be educated was a terrifying experience. It was made all the more alarming knowing it had the full support of the top levels of the Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education.

One of the keynote speakers was a race-huckster named Tim Wise, who blamed all of educations ills and inequities on “white privilege.” Yes, racism still exists in our society. It’s deplorable and should be exposed and rooted out wherever it’s found. But it is not as pervasive and systemic as Wise says and it and white privilege is most certainly not, as he suggested, the sole explanation for inequities in society. As even TDSB Director Chris Spence acknowledged, socio-economic factors play the most significant role in determining a child’s outcome. Unfortunately this admission came with  a startling display of cognitive dissonance as he subsequently downplayed the role poverty has in outcome and reiterated Wise’s call to focus on race and racism.

I have no idea if Tim Wise has ever held a real job in his life – he spoke about being a community organizer before his current career as polemicist and motivational speaker to organizations stupid enough to pay him (with your tax dollars). But in between insulting George W. Bush to the approbation of the TDSB Equity gang, and Marxist paeans to the lack of equality of outcome which he attributes to racism and white privilege, Wise betrayed a total lack of understanding of how the world of business and society work outside the bubble of the school system. That ignorance was reflected by all too many teachers at the conference.

As anyone who has worked in the real world knows, a lot of jobs come from personal connections and indeed, nepotism. From the employers’ standpoint, having someone you know and trust recommend someone else serves as a measure of risk mitigation when taking on a new employee. The fact is that immigrants are less well established than people who have been here for generations and have had the opportunities to build that infrastructure of contacts through family and social circumstances. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with culture and socio-economic status. As proof, Wise’s theory doesn’t account for why certain non-white immigrant groups like Sikhs and Koreans, which place high cultural emphasis on education, family, commerce and community, fare far better than people from cultures that don’t have those attributes, like Jamaica and Somalia, and parts of Latin America.

Either North America practices a very strange, selective racism, or Wise is full of hot air.

The problem is that the hot air Wise is blowing is being sucked up by and filing the heads of our top academic administrators. Watching Wise’s speech get a standing ovation from a hall full of mostly white teachers whose white privilege and unacknowledged racism he blamed for the inequities of their students performance was like being at an Orwellian show trial where accused thought criminals proudly confessed their crimes against Big Brother.

Even more appalling was the acceptance of Wise’s proposal that race should addressed just as disability is in schools. According to Wise, we aren’t blind to disability, so why should we be blind to race? And therein lies the problem and the best illustration of the dearth of insight possessed by such racist anti-racists. Being non-white is not a disability, and it demeans non-Caucasians  to condescend to them by treating them as if it were. The disability is in the hatred and stupidity of those archaic people who judge others on the basis of their skin color. And the reality of today’s world in North America is that if you are a racist, you will be deservedly shunned and ostracized by just about every intelligent, credible person.  This is a lesson the full implications of which Wise and TDSB Director Spence regrettably have not learned.

But that’s only one part of the problem. In our school system, which TDSB Director Spense said he wants “to esteem other cultures as much as our own,” we actually are intentionally discriminating against the founding culture of our nation.

In one session titled Limits of the Law: Guidelines and Procedures for Religious Accommodation, the session leader, a former TDSB Curriculum Project Manager and Equity/ Human Rights Reviewer, admitted that the Toronto school board actively discriminates against Christianity.

That admission came about when she discussed a case study of a Toronto school where the Parent’s Council wanted to put on a Christmas Concert, renamed to a Holiday Concert, since the school had also had celebrations of Eid and Ramadan. Even though every reference to Christmas and Jesus was excised from the program, it remained problematic after an organized campaign by Muslim parents to exclude their children from the event.

This led me to ask about the obvious discrimination against Christianity where Muslim holidays are actively celebrated but Christian beliefs and references to Jesus are verboten.

TDSB says this is hate – others may think it’s reasonable
discourse about public policy

She said that it is true Christianity is discriminated against in the TDSB and her rationale was a 1990 Ontario Appeals Court decision, known as the Elgin County decision that resulted in a school board no longer being able to open and close the school day with Christian prayer.

The incredible thing about this is that it appears that the TDSB hasgrossly twisted their interpretation of the court decision into guidelines that only prohibit Christianity while embracing any other religious practice.

In another session, called Learning and Understanding; Cultural and Religious Differences/Faith and Inclusivity: An Equity-Based Framework for meeting the needs of Muslim Students, one of the seminar leaders named Kalpana Malkan, who works for the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and said she works to help form curriculum,  put up a powerpoint slide with the quote, taken from the online comments of a newspaper article, which said, “People once chose to come to Canada for things like prosperity and freedom. Now people come here because we accommodate to the point of self-sacrifice… This is not the Canada I grew up in. We used to have a culture, now we have none..

Ms Malkan and a subsequent seminar leader in the session both identified the quote as “hate.”

The debate regarding multiculturalism and the degree to which Canadian society should attempt to integrate immigrants as opposed to accommodating foreign cultures is an important public policy question. There are no identifiable groups or people in the quote targeted for hatred. But in the minds of TDSB sanctioned seminar leaders, questioning current multiculturalism policies qualifies as hate. This totalitarianism of thought in the hands of people forming school curriculum is more frightening than any of the so-called hate they described.

As is far too common among radical would-be social engineers, context was almost completely absent from the Futures conference. One of the keynote speakers, Uzma Shakir, the City of Toronto’s Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights, criticized Canadian racism and this country’s paternalistic prejudices against immigrants. There is always room for improvement when it comes to issues of fairness, but what was never mentioned by any of the speakers at the conference was exactly to whom Canada was faring so badly by comparison.

It couldn’t be to Shakir’s native Pakistan, of which she fondly spoke, where Hindus and Christians are routinely persecuted and subject to the death penalty for blasphemy laws. Nor could it be in Saudi Arabia, where no religion but Islam can be legally observed. In fact among all the pessimism of the conference, there was no mention of any country that was more progressive in its attitude towards race and immigration than ours. But that observation, were it to be made, may have been counterproductive to the pervasive pessimism   the event appeared to intend to convey.

It needs to be said that TDSB Director Spence is an extremely intelligent individual, far more so than any of the senior Administrators at the head office or among the city`s elected School Trustees that I have yet encountered. He is obviously deeply committed to the well being of the city`s student population and wants them all to succeed. Every day, he hears heart-wrenching accounts from parents with disadvantaged children  who are struggling to help them get a fair shot at life, and he knows that education is their best, if not their only chance at that. Spence seems desperate to do something to help his students in need.

There are innovative, equitable approaches to education that were never seriously discussed at the Futures conference, like Salman Khan`s idea for an academy of remote learning with classroom supports.

But by instead grasping at the poisoned, racialist straws that people like Tim Wise are offering for self-flagellation while neglecting to do more to instill knowledge of core subjects, far more harm will be done to both students and society as a whole.

Michael Coren on Christian Persecution | Holy Post

Michael Coren interview: Why he believes Christianity is the most abused faith on Earth

  May 4, 2012 – 10:11 PM ET | Last Updated: May 4, 2012 10:14 PM ET

Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Peter J. Thompson/National Post

In his new book, Michael Coren calls Christianity the most abused faith on Earth. “I believe the evidence is overwhelming,” he writes.

Michael Coren is growing increasingly impatient. He sees the world around him becoming dangerously intolerant of Christianity. In the just-released Heresy: The Lies They Spread About Christianity, his 14th book, he writes that Christianity has become the most abused faith on Earth. “I believe the evidence is overwhelming … that Christianity is the main, central, most common, and most thoroughly and purposefully marginalized, obscured, and publicly and privately mis-represented belief system in the final decades of the twentieth century and the opening years of the twenty-first century.” He rails that the same intellectual class that so quickly condemns anything Christian will do cartwheels to explain away Islamic terrorism. National Post religion reporter Charles Lewis spoke to Mr. Coren in his Toronto home this week about his latest book — the second in a year in which the broadcaster does battle with Christianity’s enemies — and the place of Christians in what he sees as a hostile world.

Q: You start off in Heresy with the statement that Christianity has become the “most thoroughly and purposely marginalized belief system in the world.” Certainly Christians are under physical threat in much of the Middle East and Africa. But is that really the case here?
A: There’s a radical difference in the life of a Christian in the Islamic world and the life of a Christian in the West. And any North American Christian who says we’re being persecuted should really hold on a minute. This is not the same as the Coptic Christians being in physical danger in Egypt.

Q: So how do you see things here in Canada and in the West in general?
A: Christians are marginalized, they’re mocked, they’re told their views don’t belong, they’re told to keep their views out of the public square and keep their religion at home. And where it can be quite sinister is at universities where Christian students they’re told that their ideas are stupid. I’ve even seen it with my children who are in university. Somehow Christianity is not a valid area of thought any longer. You can bring your socialism, your feminism, your homosexuality, your anti-Zionism into the class but if you bring your Christianity that’s not to be taken seriously.

Q: But there is a lot about Christianity that can seem unreal: the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Jesus. Is it any surprise that people sometimes have trouble taking it seriously?
A: Christians are mocked for believing in the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection but really what they are mocked for is the moral consequences of their beliefs: that life begins at conception and ends at natural death, that abortion is wrong, that promiscuity is wrong. We live in a culture where no one wants to hear the word “no.”

Q: There is a tone of exacerbation in your book. Are you getting fed up with have to defend your faith?
A: When you get it from intelligent people it’s particularly irritating, because they will give other ideologies and other religions a great deal of room to try to understand. When it comes to Christianity they seem to assume that any sense of fairness or sympathy should be thrown out the window. They will say things that are blatantly stupid and that’s irritating.

Q: Like what?
A: To say Hitler once said he was a Christian so he must have been a Christian and Nazism came out of Christianity. Nazism was the antithesis of Christianity. The idea that because a tiny number of Catholic priests acted in an appalling manner should jaundice everything said by the Roman Catholic Church is also so illogical. You might as well say that no comment by a Canadian should ever be taken seriously because there are some serial killers in Canada.

AFP/Getty Images

Anders Breivik

Q: In the book you say how angry you are that Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, is constantly referred to as a Christian. Yet before it was known who the perpetrator was most people assumed it was a Muslim. If it’s okay to label one criminal with his religion, why not the other?
A: When the Norwegian massacre took place I said the chances are that this is a Muslim attack. I said that because there had been an attack in Sweden by Muslim groups and because Muslim groups had been promising they would attack Norway and because there are thousands of attacks every year by Muslims. It was a perfectly good assumption given all the evidence.

Q: But who is to say that these Muslim terrorists are devout Muslims and that the Christians are not devout?
A: Muslims read the Koran just before they attack and declare what they’re doing is in the name of Allah. The Koran supports violent acts. And I’m afraid many ordinary Muslims rejoice in these attacks. But no where in the New Testament does Jesus justify violence. Jesus never led armies and was not a warlord. The few Christians who do these terrible things do it despite their Christian faith. Those Muslims who commit acts of terrorism do it because of their faith. Breivik hadn’t been in a church in 17 years. There is just no evidence for Christian terrorism today.

Q: But I’m sure a lot of ordinary Muslims would disagree with you, especially those living in Canada.
A: I did a radio show and a Muslim called and said, “Well I believe it’s wrong to attack Christianity and I think you would find most every Muslim in the world would agree with me.” And I said: ‘Sir, I cannot listen to this. I’ve held a Bible soaked in the blood of Nigerian Christians slaughtered by Muslim fanatics. I’ve held the bullets fired from the guns of Muslim fanatics attacking Christians in a Baghdad church. There’s not a Muslim country in the world where Christians are treated with absolute equality.’

Q: Do Christians in Canada stand up for themselves enough or are they cowed by secular society telling them to keep their religion at home or in the church?
A: First of all, forget mainstream Protestants (Anglican, United Church, etc.). They’re barely Christian anymore, and they’ll accept anything.

Q: What about Catholics? In Ontario a new anti-bullying bill, Bill 13, now in second reading, would allow the formation of gay-straight alliances in Catholic schools yet there seems to have been little protest.
A: I think certainly Roman Catholics and evangelicals should have stood up more to Bill 13. We are being told our view on homosexuality is somehow wrong.

Darren Calabrese/National Post

Q: Could the Catholic Church leaders be afraid of being labeled homophobic?
A: They’re going to be called homophobic whatever they do. I think the Catholic Church has spent too much time worrying about the reaction it might get rather than reacting itself.

Q: Let’s talk about homosexuality a bit more. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts represents “grave depravity” and “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered … and under no circumstances can they be approved.” It also says gay people should be loved and respected. You say you have gay friends. Wouldn’t most gay people be insulted by being told their behaviour is “intrinsically disordered?”
A: If someone calls me a homophobe because I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, then I would rejoice in that. But frankly, with gay friends, I try to avoid the subject. They know I am opposed to gay marriage and they also know I’m fond of them as people and would defend them against personal attack. But let me be clear, anyone who hates gay people is a moral criminal.

Q: But a gay person might still ask, how can you be my friend when you think what I do is “intrinsically disordered.”
A: First, I would never use the same language as the Catholic Church. It sounds too clinical. A young gay woman once asked me if God loved her. I told her, ‘We all face challenges. You are loved as a person but you are more than your sexuality. We’re all sinners and we’re all struggling. I just can’t affirm homosexual behaviour.”

Q: I was surprised you devoted a chapter to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. It seemed odd to me you would choose something that is now fairly old and forgotten. Even Opus Dei, who were portrayed as assassins, no longer seem to care.
A: Well, it has influenced millions of people. They’ve been led by the book to read other books that oppose Christianity. Brown quotes real people and he makes a lot of it seem like non-fiction. I thought it was worth taking on again. I wanted to make sure that what is in The Da Vinci Code is just not true.

Q: In Heresy you say one of the myths is that Christians are obsessed with abortion. But in the chapter on abortion you too seem obsessed with it. Can you explain what you were getting at?
A: Christians, I believe, react so strongly to abortion, so intensely because they’re part of an institution given by God — so they feel it more when the most vulnerable are destroyed. And they feel it more intensely than other people. I guess we are obsessed because it is such a tragedy. And if we dare to mention it, the world tells us to be quiet.

National Post

There is at Least One Moderate Muslim in Iran, But He's Going to Jail.

Pastor Youcef’s Attorney to be Jailed for Representing the Persecuted

Jordan SekulowFiled in:
IRAN4:40 PMMay. 3, 2012

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Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s Iranian attorney has been convicted for his work defending human rights and is expected to have to begin serving his nine-year sentence in the near future.

As we have previously reported, Pastor Youcef’s attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, was sentenced to nine years in prison and banned from practicing law or teaching for ten years by the Iranian government, essentially for representing individuals like Pastor Youcef.

Dadkhah recently stated, “I was in a court in Tehran defending one of my clients, Davoud Arjangi, a jailed political activist on death row when the judge told me that my own sentence has been approved and I will be shortly summoned to jail to serve the nine-year sentence.” He continued, “I have been convicted of acting against the national security, spreading propaganda against the regime and keeping banned books at home.”

The ACLJ has learned that the Judge who informed Dadkhah his appeal had been denied is Iranian Judge Abolghasem Salavat, also known as the “Judge of Death.” He is infamous for the harsh imprisonment of those accused of political and religious “crimes.”

This news is disturbing for another reason: Dadkhah’s imprisonment leaves Pastor Youcef without legal representation. Dadkhah has previously communicated to us that if the sentence against him were carried out, no attorney would be willing to represent Pastor Youcef for fear of being imprisoned or disbarred for representing the persecuted pastor.

Iran has recently begun to crack down on attorneys who represent clients, like Pastor Youcef, who Iran dubs as enemies of the state for their beliefs. Dadkhah, a world-renowned Muslim human rights attorney in Iran, has defended numerous political and religious prisoners, including recently 12 Christians who were tried on Easter Sunday for their faith, in the same Iranian provincial court that sentenced Pastor Youcef to execution. Because he provides his legal services free of charge, the Iranian regime has asserted that he is “aiding and abetting” in the alleged crimes of his clients.

The news that this incredibly brave human rights attorney has been sentenced to prison by Iranian officials is very troubling to say the least. This development reinforces that Iran has no regard for basic human rights. It also raises further concern about the fate of Pastor Youcef. With his attorney facing nine years in prison, and no other lawyer likely to take the case, Pastor Youcef has no legal advocate, placing him at greater risk.

Though we can confirm that Pastor Youcef was still alive as of yesterday, the imprisonment of his attorney places him in grave danger of execution without any further appeal. We are dedicated to continuing our efforts internationally to secure Pastor Youcef’s release. We urge Iran to overturn both Pastor Youcef’s and his attorney’s convictions, and at the very least postpone Dadkhah’s imprisonment pending further appeal.

The ACLJ will continue to use all available means to fight for their freedom, including the Tweet for Youcef campaign, which is now reaching more than 2 million Twitter accounts each day. We also continue to call on the Senate to pass a pending resolution calling for Pastor Youcef’s release.

Please continue to pray and Tweet for Youcef, as we fight for his freedom and that of his attorney.