Canadian girls’ book club event with Nobel Peace Prize activist canceled because of potential “Islamophobia”

November 22, 2021 • 1:15 pm

Here’s a theory that is mine. And now, my theory: Canada is more woke than the United States. Why? Because although the innate degree of wokeness may be the same, Canadians are famous for their politeness, and thus don’t push back very hard on Woke insanity, like the article I describe below. Without pushback, Wokeness, with its drive for power, spreads inexorably.

So here’s the article, which you can get translated automatically from the French (at least I could with Chrome). It’s from Le Figaro. Sadly, the story it tells seems true.

Nadia Murad is an Iraqi who now lives in Germany. In 2018 she and Denis Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize; she for her campaign “to help women and children who are victims of abuse and human trafficking, and Mukwege for “repeatedly condemn[ing] impunity for mass rape and criticiz[ing] the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women as a strategy and weapon of war.

Murad’s drive came from personal experience, for as the Nobel Committee notes:

Nadia Murad is a member of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, and in 2014 the Islamic State (IS) launched a brutal attack on her home village. Several hundred people were massacred, and girls and young women were abducted and held as sex slaves. While a captive of the IS, Nadia Murad was repeatedly subjected to rape and other abuses. After three months she managed to flee.

Murad is the first Yazidi and first Iraqi to be awarded the Nobel Prize for anything. She was invited to a Toronto school book club, and what a catch she would be, for she was talking about her latest and autobiographical book. (There was another guest as well; see below.) But she and the other participant were canceled. As the paper describes (note: this is an automatic translation so I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it clearer):

The Toronto school board has withdrawn its support for a book club dedicated to young girls. The presence of the Nobel Peace Prize, committed to the Yazidi cause, could, according to its representatives, offend Muslim students.

Founded by Tanya Lee about four years ago, the book club where Nadia Murad is a guest welcomes young girls aged 13 to 18, from various secondary schools, themselves overseen by the said school board. Without being directly governed by the institution, the club is promoted by its members to the students. The organizer of this literary meeting told the Globe and Mail of her misunderstanding , explaining that the superintendent of the school, Helen Fisher, allegedly said that the students would not participate in the event, scheduled for February 2022 .

The reason given? Her book, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against Islamic State , may promote Islamophobia, reports The Globe and Mail . This is to forget that the 28-year-old Iraqi girl was, for three months, the sexual slavery of no less than 13 Daesh soldiers in 2014, before she managed to flee to Germany. Shocked by the exchange with Helen Fisher, Tanya Lee says she then sent her an email containing detailed information on the Islamic organization, coming from the BBC and CNN. “This is what the Islamic State means ,” she wrote to the superintendent.It is a terrorist organization. It has nothing to do with ordinary Muslims. The Toronto school board should be aware of the difference. ”

Apparently a council of the school board finally decided not to distribute the book to students. That’s absurd. What better role model for girls of that age than a woman who was abused and fought back hard—gaining a Nobel Prize in the end? The “Islamophibia” excuse of course comes from fear: that Muslims might take offense at the topic and cause trouble. But remember, Murad was abducted and sexually abused by an extremist group of Muslims. All rational Muslims should support Murad and her appearance. But of course religion has a way of eroding rationality. What the school board is doing is in effect saying that what ISIS did to Murad shouldn’t be criticized publicly, thus condoning religiously-inspired sexual slavery.

By the way, another person, also canceled, was supposed to appear with Murad in a joint event:

The event was supposed to carry discussion on two books in presence of their authors — Marie Henein’s ‘Nothing But the Truth: A Memoir‘ and Nadia Murad’s ‘The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State‘.

The board said it has withdrawn support to hold the October event with Henein, the daughter of Egyptian immigrants and one of Canada’s most prominent lawyers, because her book was “problematic” as she “defended” former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi when he was accused of sexual assault.

As far as I know, Ghomeshi was found “not guilty.” This is going too damn far, school board! Why aren’t Canadians objecting to this and writing letters to the Toronto school board?

h/t: Paul

36 thoughts on “Canadian girls’ book club event with Nobel Peace Prize activist canceled because of potential “Islamophobia”

  1. In a sane world, a book club has it’s members read a book and discuss whether it promotes islamophobia or not. In absurd world, “book club” means holding preliminary opinions on books and not reading them.

  2. Saw a great sign the other day that said: “A truly great library has something in it to offend everyone.” Why are we picking offense winners and losers, and why is it so easy to guess who the winners are?

    1. Whether “not guilty” means the same as “acquitted of all charges” is interesting if an actual difference between legal systems. The latter phrase has a not of pessimism as it allows that the person may still be guilty of unknown crimes.

      1. “Not guilty” in common law-based systems only really means that the prosecution was unable to prove the criminal allegations beyond reasonable doubt. It has little to do with whether the person actually committed the crimes they were accused of or not. Indeed one could bring a civil action, say for assault, following a not guilty verdict and only have to show that on the balance of probabilities the person had committed the assault and therefore liable for civil damages.

    2. It is worth noting that whatever we might believe about Ghomeshi personally, his accusers thoroughly co-ordinated their testimony outside the courtroom, and each gave evidence entirely at odds with what they had said outside the witness box. Broadly put, on oath it was ‘he physically assaulted me and raped me’ whilst in their e-mails, texts and snail mails to him it was ‘I loved it and I can’t wait to have you do it to me again’. So whatever we think of people who like rough sex, or who enjoy having their boundaries pushed to the limits even when it goes beyond consent (I’m told there are such people), it would not have been safe to convict him. His public image had gone from sexy charming TV interviewer to Jack the Ripper by the time of his trial, and without Marie Henein they would have thrown away the key. Ms Henein has taken on other highly contentious work, such as successfully defending a vice-admiral who was accused of leaking secrets that had plainly been leaked by an incompetent government. But apparently providing a proper defense of innocent people (and there are no other kind until they are found guilty!) is giving the wrong message to young women who might choose to work in the law. They will all have to become stern-faced prosecutors who never smile.
      As for why Canadians are too polite to complain about it, we have a better solution. We buy their books.

  3. “What the school board is doing is in effect saying that what ISIS did to Murad shouldn’t be criticized publicly, thus condoning religiously-inspired sexual slavery.”

    This hits this whole sorry episode on the head and is a appalling sense of judgement by this timorous “book’ club.

      1. Iaingholm and JezGrove should note that the book club wants the event to proceed, it’s the school board that has nixed it. Please put the blame where it belongs.

      1. Yes, more than just offensive and rude. It is nearly like saying ‘you deserved this’.
        This is a serious case of ‘not-so-micro-agression’.

  4. What you are saying about Wokeness in Canada is likely very true. By being polite, not speaking up it continues to spread. unabated. The same is true of many things in this country as well. How has gun control and regulation gone so far to the right – no fight from the rest of us. How has Trump taken over one of the parties in this country and continues to get rich off of his cult and destroy democracy? Same reason. We drive on complaining constantly about those far leftist and crazy woke while democracy goes right down the toilet on the right.

  5. The Toronto School Board decision has been roundly criticized and ridiculed in the press but you are right. Ordinary citizens who don’t even live in Toronto need to do more than roll their eyes. We need to step up and express our opposition in writing. Consider it done. The TSB is like the Taliban. Ordinary feminists (and other decent people like classical liberals) have been drowned out by Muslim, black, and trans activists. Like Human Rights Commissions (which Boards are deathly afraid of) they are difficult to bring to heel.

    The Ghomeshi case illustrates what a really brilliant lawyer (like Ms Heinen) can do for you. At least two complainants had continued to contact the defendant after the sexual assaults were alleged to have taken place. No problem there, saith the Crown, because abused vulnerable women often take a long time to process what actually happened and have to get over their own shame and false feelings that they actually consented. Ms Heinen had an ace up her sleeve. Somehow she was able to find out that the complainants had colluded with each other to make sure their stories matched up in important details, a fact that the police and the Crown were unaware of. Not being obligated to share her evidence with the Crown ahead of time, she dropped this bombshell while cross-examining the complainants in Court. The Crown’s case collapsed utterly.

    Ironically, the police said that if the complainants had been forthright about contacting each other, they could still have proceeded with the case. They would have had to disclose it to the defence, but at least the complainants’ credibility as witnesses would not have been demolished. I think this would be an excellent message for young girls to hear, as of course would be that of Ms. Murad.

  6. I trust the Toronto school board ensures that Toronto schoolchildren are not exposed to any history of the 7th to the 9th centuries, so as to shield them from any possibly Islamophobic thoughts. Rumor has it that during this period, the followers of Islam conquered vast territories from the Indian subcontinent all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, using methods more forceful than Facebook.

    1. Istanbul wasn’t Constantinople
      Now it’s Istanbul,it was never Constantinople
      Been a long time gone, don’t say Constantinople
      Historically forever and always it’s been Turkish delight on a moonlit night

  7. I believe the Toronto District School Board (the largest school board in Canada) back peddled on this issue when it became public. There was a certain amount of obfuscation and board administrators denying that anyone really had the authority to prevent the book club (which operates independently from the Board) from inviting the two objectionable authors. I understand that the meeting of the book club ( which operates on line) went ahead with students of two other school boards in southern Ontario. I don’t know if Canadian culture is more woke than that in the US, but wokeness is certainly alive and well here.

  8. My wife The Burrower (LeCarre fans will get it) has found the media reports that TDSB has climbed down and apologized for overstep by their Equity Dept. They have apologized to both authors. I will update. They still need a spanking from ordinary people.

  9. We wouldn’t want members of the Islamic State to feel unsafe if they inadvertently heard Murad’s account. That would be wrong.

  10. Those moronically virtuous decisions made my usually chill Canuck blood boil. Nadia Murad is one of the most courageous, resolute people I know of, overcoming her own extensive abuse and the murder of family to make us (some of us, anyway) aware of the genocidal nature of ISIS. Marie Henson is a brilliant lawyer, who shredded the credibility of the witnesses and complainants in defense of her client. By the way, even though properly acquitted, Qureshi has hardly gone unpunished: He lost his career, his reputation, and most of his money.

  11. As a country with a lot of well-meaning liberals, of course Canada is as “woke” as anyone.

    I don’t know on the whole if Canada is more or less woke than the USA, but I have my own theory about the lack of pushback: it’s largely because US news dominates even here in Canada. We just aren’t hearing about the woke excesses in our own country, because many of us are paying more attention to yours.

    There’s also the smug superiority Canadians feel towards the USA — a direct result of our national inferiority complex. Racism is bad, and America had slavery, so therefore being less racist than Americans is good. How do you show that you’re less racist? Why, performative anti-racism!

  12. Canada is insane (with apologies to my Canadian friends). If in the US book burnings are happening figuratively, in Canada they are happening quite literally.
    With one exception: Quebec. They have no patience Quebec for “Islamophobia”, “transphobia” etc accusations.
    In other news: Quebec is also the most secular place in the western hemisphere. But it gets absolutely no love from organized atheism in the US or in English speaking Canada. I guess that is because Quebec is not woke enough.

  13. The book club is a stand-alone initiative by a Toronto mum that has grown over 4 years. She picks the books for the girls to read after consultation with them about what they would like to discuss. The Toronto District School Board has helped out by making the selected books available to the club members and encouraging the girls to discuss the books in their TDSB classrooms. Club members can attend meetings on class time. Before Covid forced all their meetings on line, the club did often invite authors to attend meetings, which were held in a branch of the Toronto Public Library System — shout-out to librarians!. The Board had never made comments or “suggestions” about book choices until a Superintendent at the Board informed the club that the Equity Dept had vetoed the two books for distribution and students would not be allowed class time to attend the meetings. The Supt. hadn’t even read either book. — pub 12 Nov., free now
    from Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Director of Education [head honchx at the Board] 12 Nov.:

    ‘Following a recent newspaper article with regard to a book club featuring books by prominent Canadian lawyer Marie Henein (Nothing But the Truth) and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Nadia Murad (The Last Girl), we wanted to provide some clarification.

    ‘An opinion that did not reflect the position of the Toronto District School Board was shared with the organizer of the book club prior to staff having an opportunity to read the books – something that is routinely done before giving them to students. Staff are currently reading both books and anticipate being able to add them to the list of titles used in the corresponding course(s).

    ‘We sincerely apologize to both Ms. Henein and Ms. Murad – both of whom have powerful stories to tell and from whom we believe students would learn a great deal.’
    ——— — pub. 17 Nov. was free on both our machines today. Included quotation:

    ‘The board has made equity a big part of its brand. According to its own policy statement, the TDSB has made “a bold commitment to equity, human rights, anti-racism and anti-oppression.” The power brokers at the TDSB should be reminded of that bold commitment, lest they be lulled into believing that equity is achieved simply through Kwanzaa celebrations, gender-neutral toilets and Chromebooks for all.’
    ———— — The Burrower was able to read it earlier but paywalled now. Same column seems to be here:
    ———— — free just now.
    ————- — pub 19 Nov. Rex is often put down as an old man shouting at the sky but he’s good with a turn of phrase.

    Last Thursday Ms Heinen attended the club’s event — she had apparently donated 200 copies of her book — and they have arranged for Ms. Murad to visit from Germany in February.

    The Burrower (who is female) did write the TDSB today, telling them not to even think about doing this again.

    Other good news is that there is a long queue of people waiting for Ms. Heinen’s book in both e-book and paper formats at our city public library system.

    I think this is working out OK. Thanks for all your support.

      1. Honcho or honcha. 🙂

        The idea is that “honchx” covers both.

        Confusing is that some use the “x” to denote not “or” but rather “neither”, as for truly intersexual people.

        1. It’s an abuse of language, like “Latinx” which most Hispanics have either never heard of or dislike.

          Either use a real word, or, if you are so sensitive to foreign gendered words, don’t use it at all. “Head honcho” is a tautology. You could just as easily say “head of the Board” or “leader at the Board”.

          Edit: Sorry for the rant, but I’m sick to death of being treated like a child (by the people that promote this kind of abuse of language).

          1. I was mocking the abuse of language. Of course I meant honcha. I had started to type honcho, then I thought a woman might want an invented feminized term, since it is borrowed from a gender-inflected language. Then the -x just came to me unbidden.

            Because the TDSB specifically eschews the title “Chief-“ anything as disrespectful to Indigenous people—no I am not kidding—and has several layers of bureaucracy, I wanted to make it clear that Ms. Russel-Rawlings is the operational lead, reporting to the elected Trustees. This is an apology from the boss.

            I would like to see -x fall out of use except in satirical contexts. I am told that ordinary people who speak Latin hardly ever use it in writing about themselves anyway.

        2. I propose we pronounce the ‘x’ ending in these gender-neutral words using a long-e sound (“ee”), so that would make “honchx” sound like “honky”. It’ll piss off the Woke but, hey, that’s kinda the point.

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