The Globe and Mail reprinted an editorial it ran on June 12, 2003. It is about David Ahenakew, who disgraced himself with racist and hateful comments about Jews. A Saskatchewan court recently retried, and acquitted him, of “willfully promoting hatred.” I’ve discussed that decision in a previous post, but felt the G&M’s editorial summed up my feelings then, and now.
Let’s be clear about one thing. What former first nations leader David Ahenakew said in a speech last year was deplorable, a disgusting display of anti-Semitism. This was no mealy-mouthed expression of cocktail-party racism, but an expression of unadulterated hate against the Jewish people. It was reprehensible behaviour, particularly coming from a respected elder statesman, a former leader of the Assembly of First Nations and a member of the Order of Canada.
However, charging Mr. Ahenakew with hate crimes is not the appropriate way to deal with his remarks. The proper response is to repudiate his views in the strongest possible way, and for those in the native community to remove Mr. Ahenakew from positions of authority, while making clear that no one supports his hateful views. He should also be stripped of the Order of Canada.
With the exception of that last suggestion, this is exactly what has happened since Mr. Ahenakew shocked his own community and the country with his remarks.