Saturday, July 28, 2007

You Can't "Dialogue" with Evil

Israr Ahmad is a fundamentalist Pakistani preacher who has been making regular appearances on Vision TV. He has now been removed.

Mr. Ahmad says that he doesn't hate Jews and he isn't an anti-Semite.

Mind you, he does believe that the Holocaust was "divine punishment," and that one day Jews will be "exterminated."

But he isn't an anti-Semite and h doesn't hate Jews.

Let me share with you my lovely correspondence with Vision TV in the past week.

First, I wrote the CEO this:

Bill Roberts,

"Finally, Sir, have you no sense of decency?"

That's the line that in time stopped Senator Joe.

What will stop you from airing a Jihadist, anti-Semitic hate-monger and then rationalizing your mistake.

If it happens on your watch, then you are the one responsible.

David Berner

A few days later, they responded thus:

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the issues raised in the recent issues of the National Post. The Post articles were misleading in suggesting that offensive comments were broadcast on VisionTV. At no time were derogatory remarks about people of the Jewish community, or any other group, broadcast on our network.As Canada's multi-faith network, VisionTV celebrates the freedom of religious expression and spiritual diversity that is uniquely Canadian. It is part of our mandate to make airtime available to a broad range of faith communities and ministries. However, we also understand that fundamental freedoms must be balanced against each individual's right not to be subjected to fraudulent claims and misrepresentations with respect to matters of faith. We therefore review each program on VisionTV prior to broadcast to ensure that the content complies with our Code of Ethics, Standards and Practices. It is not always easy to achieve an appropriate balance between these competing priorities. Decisions on what content to broadcast are not taken lightly but are part of our ongoing effort to provide both a wide range of faith perspectives and the highest quality programming possible. Israr Ahmad did appear on the program Dil Dil Pakistan, as reported in the Post. But his comments in that program were limited to readings from the Quran and interpretations of scripture from that holy text. The offensive comments quoted in the Post were apparently made by Mr. Ahmad in other writings. Again, those comments were not broadcast on VisionTV.Having reviewed this matter with the producer of the program, and having learned of Mr. Ahmad's comments outside of the Dil Dil Pakistan program, the producer voluntarily agreed not to have Mr. Ahmad appear again on Dil Dil Pakistan. We will also be broadcasting an on-air apology for any offence caused Mr. Ahmad's previous appearance on the show. VisionTV and Dil Dil Pakistan have a long history of promoting positive dialogue and the peaceful teachings of the Quran. We will strive to ensure in future that we maintain the highest standards of broadcasting to achieve those goals.As a broadcaster, VisionTV takes its responsibilities for content on our network very seriously. In response to your feedback and comments from other viewers, we have undertaken to review our Code of Ethics with stakeholders including the Canadian Jewish Congress, B'nai Brith, and leaders of other Canadian faith institutions. It is often through viewer feedback that we are able to improve our broadcast standards, and we appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with us. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any additional information.

In response, I wrote:

I'm afraid that's not good enough.It couldn't have taken much in the age of the Internet to learn the values for which Mr. Ahmad clearly stands and regularly expresses.For the producer to not have taken that step in advance shows a laziness beyond employment. He/she should be fired.Maybe Goebbels or Hitler restrained themselves in some fora, but who didn't know what they meant at all times?This kind of pretense at "open dialogue" is a sham and an offence.You are in Canada, Sir. We do not welcome or encourage people who preach the violent elimination of others because of race or religion or colour or sexual orientation.The only additional information that I need from you is that you are now dedicated to a new kind of vigilance in your own standards.Are you?David Berner

There, for the moment, the trail ends....
The photo, by the way, is from "the selection" ramp at Birkenau/Auschwitz. People sent to the right went to labor camps. People sent to the left to gas chambers.

Howard Keel: