Mark Steyn is in the business of making predictions. The possible consequences of some of those predictions recently led him to make another one: “My career in Canada will be formally ended next month.”
How has it come to this?
On June 2, Steyn and Maclean’s magazine — the nation’s oldest newsweekly — are obliged to defend themselves against charges of “flagrant Islamophobia” at a British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.
The saga began two years ago, when Maclean’s published an excerpt of Steyn’s bestselling book, America Alone, which asks how the West’s changing demographic profile — specifically, the difference between Muslim and non-Muslim birthrates — will affect its future.
In December 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) filed Human Rights Commission complaints against Steyn and the magazine in three different jurisdictions, charging them with “exposing Muslims to hatred and contempt” for, among other things, accurately quoting a Norwegian imam who boasted that Muslims were breeding “like mosquitoes.”
The CIC demanded that Maclean’s print five pages of unedited Islamist propaganda in the interest of “fairness” and “balance.” Maclean’s refused. In fact, publisher Ken Whyte’s response to the group — that he would rather see the magazine go bankrupt than bow to their blackmail — outraged the CIC as much as Steyn’s original article.
The story soon became an international cause célèbre. Unlike many other Canadians who’ve been caught in the HRC’s clutches over the last ten years (and subsequently ruined), Steyn and his co-defendants are well-connected and eloquent, with relatively deep pockets and high profiles. Their case has helped expose a bizarre quasi-judicial set-up that’s part extortion scheme, part secret police.
Now the petitions have been signed and the op-eds written, and members of Parliament faxed and emailed. There seemed to be little more to do than wait anxiously for that first tribunal to start.
Then the paperback edition of America Alone was released north of the 49th parallel this month, complete with a cheeky yet ominous yellow badge on the cover that read “Soon To Be Banned In Canada.”
The undisputed highlight of the subsequent media blitz came when Steyn confronted his “accusers” for the very first time. On live TV.
(”Accusers” because the real complainant is Mohammed Elmasry, the CIC president and terrorism advocate; three young, photogenic, and properly “outraged” Muslim articling students are fronting for “ElMo” in public, and have therefore been nicknamed “the Sock Puppets” by Steyn’s supporters. One of these supporters, Tarek Fatah of the rival, moderate Muslim Canadian Congress, derisively calls the trio “the boy band.”)
These students had insisted for months that they “just wanted to debate the issues in public.” Yet when that opportunity presented itself, they refused to share the set with Steyn.