Except that he hasn’t fallen, and his critics offer no reason whatever why he should
I had a singular experience last week. I read the longest newspaper story I’ve ever seen. No, it did not concern the assassination of the American president, nor a nuclear attack by North Korea, nor the catastrophic fiscal collapse of the Ottawa government. None of the above.
The astonishing fact is that what filled nearly the whole front page, plus five full inside pages of the National Post newspaper and ran to something like 10,000 words was an account of the rise and fall of a Canadian journalist. Except that he hasn’t quite fallen, and now with this avalanche of free publicity to sustain him, he isn’t likely to. Nor did this gargantuan tome provide any valid reason why he should fall. It was, in other words, as badly reported as it was overwritten,
The man’s name is Ezra Levant, a graduate lawyer from Calgary who opted to go into both the media and politics instead of law. He wrote columns for our magazine, Alberta Report, until it folded, and my son Link and I wrote columns for Ezra’s magazine, the Western Standard, until it folded. Then Ezra moved to Toronto as a commentator on the Sun newspapers’ television channel until it folded as well. (So, alas, it goes with Canada’s conservative media.) But that’s when Ezra came into his own.
He established, some say in his basement, what he called TheRebel Media, an online television news and commentary show that lives up to its name in every possible way. But its audience zoomed upward and with good reason. It covered all the news that the “respectable” media tended to avoid.
This proved fortunate for our province of Alberta. A socialist government took over in 2015 because the conservative ranks had split into two parties. In the circumstance, neither at first provided an effective opposition. This role was effectively filled by the Rebel Media, which the government unsuccessfully tried to ban from the press gallery.
A crisis arose this month, however, when in the uproar over the coverage of the Charlottesville affair led to TheRebel and Levant (himself a Jew) being labelled anti-Semitic. Two key on-air reporters wound up being fired or quitting and at least one major financial backer withdrew his support.
Enter the National Post with what it plainly saw as the opportune moment to write, with ill-disguised satisfaction, the downfall of Ezra and an obituary for TheRebel. In the pursuit of which, the thesis is submitted that what really killed Ezra was his unremitting opposition to Islamic immigration. In the course of this we are introduced to a new term (new to me, anyway) “counter-jihadism.” What it actually means, we are not ever quite told. All we are given to know is that it’s a very bad thing, and being good liberals, that’s all we need to know.
When this sprawling story, first introduced me to this term, I was relieved to see it. At last, I thought, somebody is going to tell us why opposing jihadism is wrong. Wikipedia lists 20,998 deaths and 52,032 wounded in terror attacks, beginning with 9/11. Nearly all are declared to be done in the service of Allah whose teaching is destined to govern the world. That is almost always the given reason for the attacks.
Why is it wrong to try to prevent this? It is the clear responsibility of the writer to fully answer that question. Yet not a single sentence or even phrase in the entire 10,000 words offers to do this. Counter-jihadism is a terrible thing, but we’re nowhere told why.
Perhaps fittingly, the very day before this appeared, the Post had another story, this one from Barcelona, Spain. A van raced down a street crowded with pedestrians. Swerving from side to side to hit as many people as possible, it killed 13 and injured nearly 100. Some were children. The Islamic State “took credit” for the attack. As an acknowledged counter-jihadist, Ezra thinks we should be doing a lot more than we’re doing to stop this stuff. What the National Post thinks we don’t know, and we’ll never find out from this effusion of verbiage.
Ted Byfield was founder and publisher of Alberta Report news magazine, general editor of Alberta in the Twentieth Century. a 12-volume history of the province, and general editor of The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, a 12-volume history of Christianity. His column on education appears in The Christians.com, a web journal. He has recently authored two little books on modern pedagogy: Why History Matters and The Revolution Nobody Covered. You can order both copies here.