Witch Hunting in the 21st Century
July 14, 2013
Society’s dark underbelly has evolved over the centuries, but witch hunts have been around as long as there’s been competition. A historian will tell you that these attempts to destroy the hidden enemy masked economic or political motives, as in the case of medieval physicians crying out against midwives in order to eliminate competition. During the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, the property, livestock and grain of the accused immediately forfeited to those running the trial.
But it’s human nature to fear the invisible foe who looks just like everyone else, and it’s a dizzying power which accrues to the accuser: the power to destroy an opponent or a competitor through the accusation for which there is no defense.
This power is the monkey which perched on his shoulder and whispered in the ear of Joe McCarthy, a little-known Senator from Wisconsin who created a media sensation in 1960 with his announcement that he had in his pocket a list of more than two hundred communist sympathizers in the U.S. Government and State Department. Before his credibility eventually eroded, his accusations damaged a generation of intellectuals in the United States. More interesting was the way political opportunists like Richard Nixon coasted along in his wake. McCarthy’s “soft on Communists” meme has taken hold in Canadian politics with Conservative accusations that Liberals are “soft on crime.”
With day-care scandals of the 1990s it became evident that the next wave of witch hunts would have to do with representations of the sexual abuse of children. Vic Toews’s career-ending “You can stand with us or you can stand with the child pornographers” comment revealed a glimpse of the bunker mentality which produced the repressive Bill C-130, the Protecting Children From Internet Predators Act. Nowhere but in the title of Bill C-130 are children mentioned. Protecting children was an excuse to slip through Orwellian surveillance rules which allowed unaccountable, unrecorded surveillance by government officials. Fortunately Toews dropped the ball, created a huge backlash, and the bill vanished.
Then this week in Toronto came the arrest of renowned educator Dr. Benjamin Levin on child pornography charges. Except for hate-filled rantings on a radical conservative website and a column by Conservative gadfly Ezra Levant in which he plants the meme “sex lessons” as his identifier for the sex education curriculum document Levin and Wynn developed through the Ministry of Education, Levin’s arrest has played out quietly in the press.
A former Deputy Minister of Education in both Ontario and Manitoba, a man with a 14-page resume of honorary doctorates, awards, and Ivy League degrees, arrested for the possession and dissemination of child pornography: the very presence of this story poses a problem for a legitimate news organization. The editor can’t laugh it off as Sun News chief Kory Teneycke did with the bogus Ignatieff snapshot. Nor can he or she throw gasoline on the fire because in our culture it’s the editor’s job not to run after the mob.
I do not know Dr. Levin and have no idea as to his sexual proclivities. But I remember thinking some years ago that if I wanted to destroy a prominent citizen in the most public way possible, all I’d need to do would be to send a packet of illicit files by email to his computer in a Trojan horse which concealed itself, then plant a tip with the police and await results. How could the victim defend himself? The evidence would be there.
In the same issue where much is made of the Chilean President effusively praising an 11 year-old rape victim for agreeing to raise her abusive step-father’s child, LifeSiteNews.com led with a photograph of Justin Trudeau sitting between Levin and Premier Wynn at the Gay Pride parade last week in Toronto. The article works hard to tie Levin and Wynne and eventually Trudeau to the Ontario elementary school sex education curriculum which created a furor among social conservative parents when it came out a year ago. They don’t bother to mention former Liberal leader Bob Rae who is also sitting on the bench.
Recent Conservative attacks against Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have been characterized by their clumsiness. But in The Art of War Sun Tsu suggests a few apparently inept forrays are a good way to lull an opponent into underestimating one’s cunning.
The photo of Dr. Levin seated at the Toronto Gay Pride Parade next to Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynn is a very different grade of attack than the “in over his head” cartoon or the speaker’s fees criticism. This attack is designed to come from Trudeau’s friends, the mainstream media. Who knows how it will play out?
Why would Levin make a good target?
The sex education curriculum from the Ministry of Education was developed on his watch and with his sponsorship. Wynn was Minister of Education at that time. Public reaction led by the radical Reverend Charles McVety forced Premier Dalton McGuinty to reverse his support and kill the program after seven years of work.
How could someone be framed for child pornography charges?
It would take some computer smarts, though hardly on the magnitude of the construction of the Conservatives’ CIMS database or the Robocalls caper.
Remember the doctored photograph during the 2008 election campaign which purported to show Michael Ignatieff as a member of the American invasion force in Iraq? The clumsy forgery was laughed off the pages of most newspapers and the Conservative whiz kid who dreamed it up, Patrick Muttart, was quickly sent back to the American PR firm from whence he came.
Hey, the Swift-Boat-Veterans fabrication defeated war hero John Kerry and handed malingerer George Bush the keys to the White House.
A previous attempt at guilt by association with the arrest of former colleague Christopher Ingvaldson on the same charges didn’t stick to Trudeau.
The photograph is a godsend for an attack ad which links Levin to Wynne (the disgraced McGuinty Government) and to Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau who continues to hold a prohibitive lead in the polls.
The Harper brand has tarnished very rapidly since Trudeau came on the scene. The Senate expenses scandal has taken up all of the oxygen in the room. Harper needs a break.
Boy, do I hope I’m wrong about this.