I sat down with Reverend Zenji Nio, the only man in North America to officially be knighted as a Samurai, to discuss this Thursday’s Holocaust memorial event he is organizing on behalf of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Yom HaShoah. It is set to be a first of its kind event as it gathers in 20 leaders from different faiths for a public prayer service and memorial for the victims of the Holocaust.
Interfaith events don’t appeal to everyone. As Zenji Nio says they tend to mostly produce “Kumbaya platitudes” that help perpetuate an “ostrich mentality.” Instead, he believes in using the Samurai mentality to combat anti-Semitism.
The story of the Samurai and the Jews starts in 1940 with Zenji Nio’s role model, Sempo Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. When Jewish refugees came to him with obviously fraudulent papers from Curacao and other Dutch islands, seeing what was happening to Jews in Nazi occupied territories, he granted them visas to travel to Japan as that was the only way for them to get to safety in America.
This is the legacy that Zenji Nio wishes to continue. A Samurai is someone who fights with honour for a righteous cause, and does not stand idly by in the face of evil.
Nio first realized his calling during the Olympics. The man nicknamed “the Olympic Samurai” for his work teaching Samurai Buddhism to over 50 medalists, recalled being stunned by the level of anti-Semitism he saw at one of the world’s most supposedly uniting events. The massacre of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich games is the most famous incident, but there are many non-fatal instances of anti-Semitism at the Olympics.
Take for example the most recent Summer Games in 2016 when the Lebanese delegation protested the presence of Israeli athletes on their bus and refused to let them on the Olympic bus. Two things of note on this event. Was there any international condemnation? No, most outlets neglected to cover it. What happened? The Jews were forced to take a separate bus.
This is when Nio realized that antisemitism isn’t like any other type of racism. To the white supremacy crowd Jews are nefarious infiltrators conspiring against whiteness. To the white privilege crowd Jews are co-conspirators in upholding white privilege, such as the recent emergence of the phrase “white Jews” used to indicate what the Left deems as a bad Jew.
Anti-Semitism doesn’t have a single source, it can come from all sides of the political spectrum, religious and secular doctrines and in all cultures. This has been in display this week with the synagogue shooting in San Diego by a white supremacist coming on the heels of a Nazi-style cartoon appearing in the New York Times.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise in our society, and Zenji Nio says it keeps him up at night. Because to him anti-Semitic events represent a manifestation of the cracks in our social fabric, and no matter who wins our current culture war, if they are a radical faction persecution will start with the Jews and then expand outwards.
This is why he stresses the need to acknowledge the distinct anti-Semitic nature of the Holocaust, and bring together leaders of different communities in a public event. The goal of this Thursday’s memorial is to set a new precedent. If 20 different faith leaders can get together in Toronto to mourn the victims of the Holocaust than they can do it in New York, Chicago, London, Madrid, etc.
The wider purpose here would be to inspire the populous to take the issue seriously. If they can see their religious leaders work together on this issue it will hopefully inspire them to educate themselves on the matter. The faith leaders at this event are sort of the who’s who in Canada. Cheri Dinovo, the first minister to perform a same sex wedding in North America, Raheel Raza, the first woman to lead Islamic prayer services in Canada and Oxford, Elder Dianne Longboat, a First Nations leader who had 3 in laws killed by Nazis, Imam Tahwidi, who flew in from Australia, and Avi Benlolo, the CEO of FSWC Canada.
During this first of its kind Yom HaShoah event, don’t expect the standard nebulous spirituality that is common to interfaith gatherings though. Zenji Nio believes the purpose of interfaith should be to ask hard questions, because if our leaders can’t be expected to deal with difficult issues, then who can? He is of the opinion that anti-Semitism should be fought by the way of the Samurai, confronted in a straight forward and honourable way.
To him, one of the main causes of the Holocaust was the inaction of the population when things were getting bad, the old adage that evil only thrives when good men do nothing. So that is his commitment in the fight against hatred, never again will faith leaders sit cowardly on the sidelines while Jews are discriminated against, simply happy that it isn’t them at the moment.
There is some “extreme hate” in today’s climate, and for Reverend Zenji Nio the solution is a combination of compassion, Bushido (Samurai code of chivalry) and honor. And the sooner we get there, the better. Anti-Semitism is quickly becoming a popular political opinion, and people Jewish and non-Jewish are increasingly afraid to express themselves in public, and this needs to change if we as a society are ever to confront something serious.
Gender critical feminist Meghan Murphy is being held responsible for the effects of the threats against her. CUPE Local 391, representing workers at the Vancouver Public Library, wants the library to shut down Murphy’s upcoming March 21 talk. They are concerned about the impact that the threats against Murphy and the controversy surrounding gender critical ideas has had on library workers.
Trans activists have previously asked for Murphy’s series of #GIDYVR talks to be denied public meeting space, and they protest her everywhere she speaks. They have threatened Murphy, the VPL, and library staff. The library has not folded to these demands. But for some reason the union wants to punish the women that have been threatened, instead of those who advocate for violence against women.
It would be normal to blame the trans activists who have made the threats—but in lieu of that, they are blaming the women who have been threatened. Murphy wants to meet peacefully to discuss gender identity, as she has done countless times before. She neither courts nor advocates for violence. The union’s reasoning is that the protests put an undue burden on library employees.
In a public statement, a response to VPL’s upcoming room rental to Murphy for a March 21 talk, CUPE Local 391 states:
“The stress put on workers before, during, and after this event, has the potential for long-term damage that cannot be ignored or dismissed. Members have expressed, to the union and to management, symptoms of anxiety, fear, anger, and depression in both their professional and personal lives. These experiences raise health and safety concerns from the union for those members directly affected as well as those working alongside their struggling colleagues. The impact is also felt by the many members who have had to navigate highly emotional conversations with colleagues and the public due to the very public discussion surrounding this issue. Library patrons and community members have directly targeted our members on social media while engaging in the debate about the decision to allow the room rental. Members in the unit responsible for library communications and social media have likewise been exposed to threatening and violent language.”
In short, because #GIDYVR events draw protests, the union wants to cave to the threats of activists and deny women their right to gather peacefully. Instead of condemning those who would deny Murphy her right to rent public space, the union condemns Murphy. The woman who is persistently threatened with violence is now being blamed for those very threats.
Murphy is no stranger to attempted deplatforming. She has held events at the Vancouver Public Library before, and has been protested for it. The library was disinvited from marching in Vancouver’s Pride Parade because they have allowed her group to rent space. When Murphy speaks on panels, or at gender critical events, she is flanked by bodyguards due to persistent threats of violence against her. Murphy did not ask for this fight but she has taken it up because the alternative is the erasure of women. If our greatest institutions cannot stand up for our rights to speak freely, all hope of justice and discourse is lost. The union would rather allow the silencing of women than address the violent threats of the trans advocates.
Murphy responded on Instagram: “—the library staff union—has released an appalling statement, framing out #GIDYVR events as, essentially, a health and safety risk to workers. While indeed trans activists have threatened violence, it is not the event itself, which is a discussion of women’s rights, that is the risk. The union is pressuring the Vancouver Public Library to cancel our next event, Gidyvr Women’s spaces & Places, on account of ‘stress’ caused to union members on account of the harassment, verbal abuse, and threats they receive from trans activists. WOMEN are being blamed for threats, abuse and harassment from others, many of whom are male. We are being held accountable for the harassment, violence, and threats WE receive from abusive authoritarians. A fucking LABOUR UNION is attempting to silence feminist speech and public debate about a subject that impacts all of us because a group of fascists don’w tant women to speak in their own defense. It is incredibly inappropriate, to start, for the union to speak on behalf of their members in this way, considering there are, as the VPL and CUPE are aware, numerous people on staff and in the union who support out events and right to speak. Moreover, it is unacceptable to attempt to punish and silence us for exercising our right to free expression and for standing up for women’s rights. PUSH BACK.”
A labour union, an organization that has the sole purpose of upholding rights, seeks to deny the rights of others. In the face of injustice, and advocacy for the denial of women’s rights to speak, the union is caving to threats. While it is couched in concern for their members, the effect is the same as letting mob rule decide who gets access to public space and who does not. It’s shameful that the union wrote this statement, that it was approved and released. It’s unacceptable to cow to threats of violence simply because it’s the less difficult option, and it’s doubly unacceptable to blame women for those threats leveled against them.
Ryan Newman, the famous NASCAR driver, has been released from a Daytona Beach hospital following a horrific crash on Monday during the last lap of the Daytona 500.
Newman, 42, flipped his car, which slid on its roof before it was then hit on the driver’s side by another car, before finally sliding across the finish line upside down.
Newman was rushed to Halifax Health for treatment in Daytona Beach according to WESH 2 News.
Roush Fenway Racing confirmed Newman’s status in a statement released early Wednesday morning, stating that Newman is showing “great improvement.”
“Ryan Newman has been treated and released from Halifax Medical Center,” a tweet from Roush Fenway Racing said.
Jeff Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion and Fox NASCAR announcer commented, “Safety has come a long way in this sport, but sometimes we are reminded that it is a very dangerous sport.”
The crash occurred as Newman attempted to block rival driver Blaney from getting ahead of him. Blaney’s push forced Newman out of control, resulting in the most violent wreck in Daytona since Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001.
President Trump took to Twitter to express his concern. Trump was present the previous day, attending the race as the grand marshal. He gave the command for drivers to start their engines and made a ceremonial pace lap around Daytona International Speedway before the rain cancelled the race.
Anti-pipeline protestors outside of Spruce Grove, Alberta, were confronted by locals fed-up with the law-breakers blocking the railway on Wednesday, as first reported by CTV News.
A business owner from Spruce Grove, upset with the protestors affecting her business, asked
“Quick question though, how is this affecting your business? How does this affect your business if you’re in Spruce Grove?” asked the one activist blocking the train route to the business owner.
“Are you kidding? Do you know what industrial area you are in? Do you know how many trains for through Spruce Grove in a day? Do you know that?” asked the business owner.
The one protestor shook his head no.
“You don’t, and you don’t care. And that’s the sad part. How there be any reconciliation or reasonable conversation when you are doing something illegal? Plain and simple,” said the business owner from Spruce Grove.
“The government is breaking its own laws,” said a woman protestor.
The business owner asked if illegal activity was a good way to go about reconciliation.
“Are you telling them how to get reconciliation? Another white person, coming down and telling Native people how to view their business. That’s sad.” said another anti-pipeline protestor.
“Your being racist, you’re both being racist,” said the female protestor.
“Eight of 13 hereditary chiefs. Twenty bands want that pipeline. You’re making it about something that it isn’t. And you’re standing in their way,” said the business owner.
“You’re making it a very unsafe space here, you need to go over there,” said another woman blocking the track to an out of work Albertan asking the protestors to clear the track.
“Trains are supposed to go through here… We have the rights to fu**in’ jobs, to pipelines, to all kinds of things,” said the clearly angry counter protestor in CTV’s footage of the scene.
“Trudeau isn’t doing nothing. The RCMP aren’t doing nothing. What are you, Batman? Why don’t you go home,” said another protestor to the unemployed Albertan.
The unemployed man said he was laid off because of the protest, in which one of the law-breakers asked if he had ever heard of a temp agency.
Canadians across the country are confronting the protestors shutting down Canada’s railways and roadways.
A poll commissioned by Global News found that 61 percent of Canadians see the protestors putting up illegal blockades as illegitimate in their actions.
The blockade near Spruce Grove was torn down by counter-protestors later in the day.
Conservative Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton Marilyn Gladu has been officially approved to run for the Conservative Party leadership race.
Gladu has been open about her bid, having announced her bid to become the leader of the Conservative Party on Jan. 9. She was at the time the only female candidate in the leadership contest, though she will be joined by Leslyn Lewis.
“In order to win, we need to be able to expand the base,” Gladu told National Post on Thursday. “When I looked at it, I said to myself, this is something I can do. I am a strong, dynamic leader. I’ve got 32 years of global business experience, and I’ve been successful here in Parliament. I think I can bring the right balance of fiscal responsibility and social compassion.”
Gladu was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and serves as the Conservative’s health critic. Gladu has a background as a chemical engineer.
Gladu also says she is bilingual, having done business in Quebec.
This is a breaking news article and will be updated.