Opinion Letters

Learning from the past

The Nov. 30 article “Learning from the past” triggered unsettling thoughts

Cobourg Police Chief, Kai Liu, explained that people anywhere who paint swastika’s today, or use hate crime language in public graffiti … often have no idea about the roots of these symbols and what they actually mean. "When you stand on holy grounds where millions died," the Chief said, “you understand the impact of the symbol of the swastika and what that means to those who survived them.”

During the cold war 80’s I went on extended smuggling operations inside the communist-occupied territories of Eastern Europe. I stayed in Polish cities named after Jews, visited Jewish cemeteries, execution walls, and walked through many ruins of nazism and communism in Poland, Hungary, Romania, etc. I befriended Hungary’s greatest modern poet, George Faludy, who had survived nazi and communist extermination camps.

I befriended Hungarian samizdat dissident, Gabor Demszky, when he was getting his teeth kicked out by the cops. He is now the mayor of Budapest. I’ve worked with Jewish dissidents who escaped hallucinogenic drug torture in Soviet psychiatric prisons. I met with activists for the Romany, Europe’s most persecuted minority, facilitated by police who serve and protect the civil authorities acting on regulations to dismantle their camps (homes).”

I was arrested and detained in Warsaw for unauthorized photographs. Police tailed me in Lodz. Guns were pulled on me at the Hungarian/Romanian border and twice threatened by the Securitate police in Bucharest.

Evil as the nazi system was, the communist system was worse. Nazism killed tens of millions, but communism killed hundreds of millions. Whatever the swastika represents, the hammer and sickle represents the very same hatreds towards Jews, gays, the disabled, the Romany, going forward to export the hammer/sickle tyranny to China, Cambodia, where wholesale genocide and democide flourished.

The nazi political symbol represents state violence against groups of humans on a massive scale. The communist political symbol represents state violence against groups of humans on a far vaster international scale that diminishes the hate factor of the swastika to second rate.

Given the historical facts on the ground, it is appalling to witness peace activist events in Toronto where the hammer and sickle flag flies. A few years back, I photographed a contingent of Cobourgers in a Toronto peace demo where this hateful flag was waved. The Cobourgers were charming individuals from local church groups – full of good intentions, empty of historical perspective.

Why is the swastika (political symbol) regarded by police and the mainstream media as hateful, whereas the hammer and sickle (political symbol) gets a free pass? Politics, pure politics, carefully blended with ignorance and social justice to make it palatable to the culverts of gullibility.

So-called hate crimes and speech are more often than not, political crimes gussied up in the politically correct jargon du jour. Yet Cobourg has a police chief grandstanding above the fold, claiming that others have “… no idea about the roots of these symbols and what they actually mean.” Why did he disfavour one political symbol over the other? Would he regard the hammer sickle graffiti as a hate crime? Why not? Political reasons?

The Holocaust did not happen because there was “hate speech”; it happened because there was no speech. The National Socialists banned seditious hate speech, allegedly found in Jewish texts, unGerman texts, hence the 1933 book burnings. Tyranny flourishes whenever and wherever speech is silenced. Freedom and creativity flourish where speech is free.

Chief Liu spoke of his anti-hate crime programs. In the 1970’s the Security Service of the RCMP had intercepted, withheld and published my private mail, wiretapped my Cobourg flat, interrogated friends and acquaintances about my loyalty to Canada, advised landlords and employers that I was a suspected subversive. I was bullied by the police. Thankfully, local MP, Allan Lawrence took up my cause, and the local newspaper ate it all up.

Free speech in Canada is under assault by deceitfully named Human Rights Commissions, bureaucrats, administrators, universities and plainstream media. It is under assault by self-righteous left-wing progressives and self-righteous right-wing evangelicals.

Let us get one thing straight about free speech. Before Chief Liu makes his presentation to the Police Services Board, I remind everyone that Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms explicitly protects freedom of expression. FREE SPEECH is the fundamental law that Chief Liu and all government officials are mandated to “serve and protect” whilst I expand the territorial imperative of free speech and the imagination.

Wally Keeler


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