August 22, 2005
Freedom of speech is dying an excruciating death. Watching it die is difficult enough, but knowing that, somehow, by my silence, I am complicit in the death, is unbearable. One thing is certain. I cannot stand by and do nothing. I cannot stand by and watch our freedoms die. I cannot stand by in tacit silence, while what's left of our freedom wriggles and squirms and gasps for air. There has got to be a mass resuscitation. There has got to be a way to breathe life back into our Bill of Rights. We are careening down a slippery slope into a disaster, the magnitude of which nobody has ever witnessed. You know I am right, don't you? You can feel it too, can't you?
How is this happening and when did it first begin? When did the first amendment wind up under the boot of fascism? When did "politically correct" become synonymous with censorship? When did the label "hate crime" become our new censoring device? When did "critic" become synonymous with "terrorist?" When did the ruling elite remove the word "free" from "free speech?"
All my life I have heard people question, "Why did people "follow orders" in Nazi Germany?" Look in the mirror folks. Maybe that's where the answer lies.
"Either you're with us, or you are with the terrorists." George Bush struggles to string his words into a coherent sentence. But is it coherent? Since when are questions and criticism verboten? Since when is honest dialogue and discussion a crime?
Yesterday I watched a short Internet video about Ernst Zundel. The host of the show was Dr. Hesham Tillawi and his guests were Paul Fromm and Ingrid Rimland. Mr. Fromm is with the Canadian Association for Free Expression. His organization reportedly goes to bat for people accused of "thought crimes". Ingrid Rimland is Ernst Zundel's wife and an accomplished writer of more than 6 books. She lives in Tennessee and owns, edits and controls The Zundelsite.
Perhaps I should begin with a bit of background for those of you who are not familiar with Ernst Zundel. But before I begin, let me admit that no matter how much I have read, I still have difficulty making sense of Mr. Zundel's tragic story. I am still not certain why he has been languishing in prison for the past few years.
Paul Fromm explained that from 1996 - 2001, the Canadian Government was trying to get control of Internet websites in other countries with the intention of shutting down certain of the sites. Mr. Zundel, a legal resident of Canada, who was, at that point, living in the U.S., was said to be associated with one such site. The Zundelsite was run by his wife, Ingrid. The Canadian Government stated that the nature of its contents were likely to expose Jews to hate and contempt. And yet, Ernst Zundel's site was outside Canadian jurisdiction.
In February of 2003, INS agents and local sheriff deputies raided the Zundel home in Tennessee. They told Ernst that he had missed a hearing with immigration. The Zundels were taken aback. They had been awaiting notification of this hearing.
There was nothing the Zundels could say or do. And on that fateful night in 2003, handcuffs were slapped on Ernst Zundel and he was deported to Canada. (his last country of legal residence) He was imprisoned in Canada from February 16, 2003 until March 2, 2005. They called him "a threat to national security."
Since September 11, 2001, Governments have changed their definition of "dissent." They are now calling it "terrorism." Ernst Zundel was anything but a terrorist. In fact, he was a pacifist who urged his supporters NOT to engage in terrorism. In the 40 years he'd lived in Canada, he had fathered two children and had never committed a crime. But all that seemed irrelevant to the authorities.
Mr. Fromm told Dr. Tillawi that the Canadian Government was under tremendous pressure from groups such as the Canadian Jewish Congress and the League For Human Rights Of B'nai Brith to deport Zundel.
Canada then shipped Ernst to Germany which had a warrant out for his arrest. Germany was claiming that Zundel had used the Internet to violate Section 190 of the German Criminal Code which stated that it is an offense to "dishonor the memory of the dead."
Most of the German charges had to do with postings on the Zundelsite, which was in Tennessee and owned by his wife Ingrid, a U.S. citizen. And, to complicate matters further, the United States did not have any similar laws.
This November, Ernst Zundel is scheduled to go to trial and, if committed, he could face additional prison time of 5 years. In addition, he has been banned from America for 20 years because he allegedly missed an interview with immigration; an interview of which he'd not received notification.
Ingrid Rimland explained that she cannot go to Germany to visit her husband because there is a warrant out for her arrest. The warrant is because of her website in America. This is a site that has been on the Internet for 10 years.
Ernst Zundel is 66 years old and has been treated poorly in prison. In Canada he starved and froze. His health is suffering. He has been labeled a Holocaust Denier and a White Supremacist, two terms that have helped to stir up anti-Zundel sentiment. However, according to Mr. Fromm, neither label is true. Ernst does not deny the Holocaust; he is merely questioning some of the details.
Not long ago, I heard a discussion about Ernst Zundel, on National Public Radio. The members of the panel, were, in part, Jewish. They were quite blunt about their disdain for Mr. Zundel, and yet they said that he was entitled to express his views. "Nobody is asking anyone to agree with what he is saying; it is his right to speak that is the issue"
In our culture it is totally admissible to question a variety of things. There are many people who publicly question the existence of God. There are people who write volumes insisting that Jesus Christ never existed. There are books that claim that religion is mind control and that the Bible was written by some men in order to control other man. And yet, these people are not behind bars, and well they shouldn't be. These people have been awarded the right to question history and religion. What's different about Ernst Zundel's case?
Why shouldn't historical facts be open to public scrutiny and debate? Why isn't there a place for rational discourse? Why are unpopular views being labeled as "terrorism?" After all, if something is true, it will stand up under the light of careful scrutiny, won't it?
Dr. Norman Finkelstein is a Jewish author of some very controversial books. In his book, "The Holocaust Industry, " Dr. Finkelstein states that many powerful Zionist groups have used the Holocaust to amass vast sums of money. He states that the Holocaust has been used for fund raising for the survivors of the Hitler's detention camps. And, he continues, the survivors never received any of the funds. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been raised for Jewish causes because of the Holocaust. Over 700 billion has come from the United States.
There is something terribly wrong with this whole tragic story. And yet, I wonder, is this only the beginning?
On the 20th of August, a chilling article appeared in The Ottawa Citizen, a Canadian newspaper. A Jewish group had filed a complaint to the University of Ottawa against economics Professor Michel Chossudovsky, who was referred to as a "controversial left-leaning economist." Chossudovsky was accused of hosting an "anti-Semitic website."
The article talked about a forum that Mr. Chossudovsky moderated. It was a forum on which the Holocaust was discussed. On this forum 9/11 and possible Israeli involvement was discussed. None of the postings were written by Michel Chossudovsky and yet, under Canadian law, website owners can be liable for material they knowingly post, even if they have not produced it themselves.
"I know this isn't his own writing, but he's certainly got a responsibility for the website, which, I checked, is registered in his name," said Anita Bromberg, B'nai Brith's legal counsel and human rights co-ordinator."
What will happen? I don't know. The muzzling of questions and concerns is spreading like a cancer.
The world is filled with problems which appear to be insurmountable. I don't know how to solve these problems, but one thing I do know. It is imperative that we examine all the possibilities. The solution will never come through fear and intimidation. The solution will never come through shutting people up, scaring them, threatening them and imprisoning them because they merely dared to question. We should all be questioning.
Copyright 2005: Judy Andreas