Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fun with Ann Coulter

If you’ve been paying attention to the news this week, you’re well aware of the frenzy over Ann Coulter, the controversial American author and polemicist (a person who argues in opposition to another) known for her right-wing views against liberals, feminists, environmentalists and non-Christians.

Mayhem broke out when she came to the University of Ottawa for a speaking engagement and the event had to be cancelled. A large contingent of protesters made it impossible for her to proceed due to safety concerns. The incident has given rise to public discussion about freedom of speech in this country and human rights concerns. It has also created a fabulous amount of press for an otherwise uninspiring American media agitator.

Curious about this woman after the Ottawa hoopla, I’ve done a little research. I’d seen her before on television and perhaps come across her books at the bookstores, but was never particularly drawn to her bombastic approach. Now that I’ve seen a few interview clips, including interviews with Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, and Donny Deutsch, I know why she has not been on my radar.

Articulate, attractive, aggressive and presumably intelligent, she has the attributes of a compelling media personality. Yet what comes out of her mouth is astonishing. She may have the gift of gab, but the gab is certainly not gifted. Not to my mind, nor, seemingly, to her interviewers’ minds.

For example, on CNBC’s “The Big Idea” Ann Coulter tells host Donny Deutsch (who is Jewish) that “Christians are perfected Jews.” As you can imagine, Donny Deutsch took great offense. See the clip on YouTube for some head-shaking entertainment: Ann Coulter interview with Donny Deutsch

I wonder what Jesus Christ would say to the comment given that he himself was a Jew. I also wonder what planet this woman is living on. She wants to convert the entire world to Christianity yet she doesn’t seem to understand the fundamental teachings of Christianity such as “Love thy neighbour as thyself” and “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself.” Her inflammatory remarks may be attention-grabbing and discussion-provoking, but they can also be as red-neck ignorant as you’ve ever heard.

Jesus, who according to the Gospels promoted peace and love, would likely take umbrage with Coulter’s interpretation. In the interview she awkwardly and condescendingly tries to explain how it is that Christians are 'perfected Jews' and that Jews should not be offended by this fact. In less than one minute she made at least thirteen million enemies, not to mention the Christians and Muslims who consider her ludicrous.

Maybe Coulter should read the Bible, where she might learn that Jesus not only died for the sins of humanity, but that he epitomized “perfection.” So how can Jews be perfected, if Jesus, a Jew, is himself perfect? Perhaps Christians are imperfect Jews.

Furthermore, Jesus disapproved of self-righteous spirituality, and preached tolerance and inclusiveness. Basic knowledge of the New Testament should confirm this.

The above is but a tiny fraction of Coulter’s sensational perspective on life, religion and politics. She has no shame and spares no mercy. Should she be muzzled? That is the big question in the media this week. How far does freedom of speech go? How much seditious rhetoric should be tolerated?

This can be a fuzzy question. Inciting violence and defying human rights are against the law, but provoking anger, disparaging others, and saying outrageously ignorant things are not. Ann Coulter should not be censored as far as I’m concerned because she hasn’t broken the law. I think she’s on a self-destructive path, anyway; one day the spotlight will dim, the platform will disappear and she’ll have lots of time to reflect.

Sadly, it won’t happen until the media (and bloggers like me) stop giving her air time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

All you Need is Love...and Friendships

I didn’t write this (and I have no idea who did), but I like what it says and I think it’s worth sharing:

People [and pets] come into your life for a REASON, a SEASON, or a LIFETIME.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it may be because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real...but only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons: things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.


In the spirit of friendship and love, take a look at this video clip and reflect on your own relationships, past and present:  All you Need is LoveEnjoy!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

What not to Wear

Last week, controversy arose in Quebec regarding a Muslim woman from Egypt, who expected her French language class for new immigrants to make special accommodations for her. Dressed in full niqab with only slits for her eyes, she was not able to fully participate in the learning. The instructor’s approach involved helping students with pronunciation by watching the movements of their mouths; when asked to remove the veil covering her mouth, the woman refused.

She insisted on giving her presentations from the back of the classroom (with her back to the class) in order to avoid visual contact with the three male students in the room. She also asked the men to move away from her when they were too close for her comfort. When there were one-on-one exercises, she would only work with the female instructor.

Eventually, the school and the Quebec government had had enough. The woman was given the ultimatum to remove the veil covering her mouth to expose her face, or leave. She quit. Then she launched a human-rights complaint against the province.

She says that she wears the veil for religious reasons and is being treated unfairly. The province says that when a person receives public services, they must do it with their face uncovered. A barrier on the face inhibits integration.

The woman is deeply offended. She says her right to religious freedom has been violated.

This kind of debate is not new in our country and certainly not in the province of Ontario. Toronto is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, with more languages spoken here than anywhere else. We welcome immigrants and we have much to gain from having such a diverse population. We learn about different customs and traditions, different viewpoints, and different societies. Despite cultural and religious differences, new immigrants are just like us in many ways; they care about similar things: their faith, family, community, the environment, health, and education. They enrich our communities and teach us tolerance.

However...they are guests in this country and they are privileged to be here. As are the rest of us—descendants of past immigrants. Canada is arguably the best country in the world to live in. It is still the land of opportunity and probably offers the greatest future for any immigrant today. Not to say that it is easy to start fresh in a new country. My great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents immigrated to Canada from Hungary after the Second World War and they had their share of tribulation.

Leaving their much loved homeland behind, with no knowledge of French or English, they had to rebuild their lives from scratch. Did they ever demand special privileges to accommodate their customs? Of course not. They were grateful to be here and were determined to integrate as quickly as possible.

They did what they needed to do—learned the language, got menial jobs to start with (although they were all professionals back in Hungary), and developed friendships with local people. Naturally they were homesick and missed their old pre-war life, and they had to adjust to strange new things like Wonderbread, which my grandmother thought tasted like paper.

They never took this country for granted and they appreciated the generosity and gracious welcome extended to them. Race and religion may not have been issues, but they still had many challenges to overcome.

Canada is a secular nation that accommodates and tolerates private religious practices of all kinds. But when these customs interfere with public affairs and infringe on the rights of others, isn’t it taking the privilege too far?

A few years ago, John Tory lost his run for premier of Ontario because he was advocating public funding for private religion-based schools. Ontarians did not jump onto his platform. Why? Because we don’t believe in promoting segregation. We respect all peaceful religions and we understand the need to maintain a cultural identity, but there is a limit. If immigrants do not want to be shut out by their newfound home, then likewise, they should not shut out those who have welcomed them into their fold, including male teachers, male students and any other person who offers goodwill. The Egyptian woman has three children; what are their chances of assimilating?

If the tables were turned and a Western woman was to emigrate to the Middle East, how would she be treated?

Here is an excerpt from a piece by contributing editor of Vanity Fair, Judy Bachrach, from her article Twice Branded: Western Women in Muslim Lands:

Western women who find themselves in the Middle East come in for their own fair share of daily insults, owing to their double deficit as women and foreigners. Every step outside the home or hotel is an invitation to a carefully directed barrage of verbal assaults, their components familiar and unvarying: vulgar and offensive remarks, leers and snickers, the occasional shove, all accompanied by grins of triumph.

Furthermore, Bachrach had this to say about her own experience in Egypt:

Thus it was that my Egyptian experience marked the only time in my life when the acquisition of the rudiments of a foreign language, far from making life more comfortable, actually ignited rage. The more Arabic we learned, the more xenophobic and sexually explicit trash talk we understood. There was a lot of it around (except, significantly, when we were escorted by our husbands).

Perhaps the Egyptian woman should reconsider her complaint, and think twice about how she has been treated in Canada. If she still feels slighted, she can always go back to her own country, where women have few, if any, rights at all.