David Ahenakew’s antisemitism became a national news story even before hate-speech charges were laid. But Ezra Levant is correct to point out that the trial – and the resulting publicity – did more to spread Ahenakew’s opinions on the Holocaust than he ever could have dreamed:
Ahenakew has had Canada’s best PR man these past six years. Forgive my ethnic pride, but few people know how to promote celebrity talent like the Jews do. Ahenakew’s super-agent has been the Canadian Jewish Congress’s Bernie “Burny” Farber — the same turbo-promoter who turned Ernst Zundel from a nobody kook in a hard-hat into an international celebrity; the same one who turned Jim Keegstra, a small-time loser in a small-time town, into a national star.
As I’ve written before, David Ahenakew had the ear of pretty much no-one until Burny found him. Ahenakew’s grandchildren had to listen to the old fool, and he was still invited to Aboriginal conferences as some sort of superannuated “elder”, but people really didn’t listen to him. He muttered conspiracy theories. We’ve probably all encountered the type — nutty and harmless.
He was a fading star, like Richard Dreyfuss in the early 1980s. But Burny saw the potential in him.
When Ahenakew made some foolish anti-Semitic remarks to a reporter back in 2002, Burny moved fast. He was part of the chorus calling for Ahenakew to be prosecuted for the criminal code section about “hate” — as if a normal human emotion could be criminalized.
After a trial, an appeal and a re-trial — six years of prosecution — Ahenakew was acquitted today.
So what has Burny achieved?
Ahenakew has not changed his mind — he still hates Jews. Probably more than when he was charged with hating them six years ago.
Ahenakew’s statements about Jews have not evanesced into the air, as they would have had he been properly ignored (or informally rebutted, instead of prosecuted by the state). His anti-Semitic views have been repeated countless thousands of times in newspapers, TV shows and, of course, the Internet. The ramblings of a fool have thus received more of an audience than the thoughtful prose of most best-selling authors in Canada.
And Ahenakew’s conspiracy theory — that the Jews control the world, and persecute their enemies — is just a little bit more plausible, certainly in his own mind and that of his supporters.
Chris Selley makes a similar point: “Had [the newspaper reporter to whom Ahenekew vented against the Jooooooos] not broken the story, of course, there wouldn’t have even been the possibility of hatred being incited—yet nobody would suggest punishing the newspaper. Just one of the necessary absurdities of limiting free speech.” Don’t give them any ideas, Chris.