It’s time for Ezra Levant to apologize or explain his hateful Roma commentary

Canadians struggle to cope with the offensive noise from the Sun News Network. Typical TV viewers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Commentator Ezra Levant.

It’s 2013, and it’s time for Sun News Network commentator Ezra Levant to either apologize for or explain his comments on Sept. 5, 2012, about the Roma.

Now, Mr. Levant appears to be the kind of young man for whom a phrase like “never apologize, never explain,” would take on mantra-like authority. Nevertheless, it’s time, or certain conclusions about Mr. Levant’s views about the Roma people will be impossible to avoid.

More important, the same unhappy conclusions will be unavoidable in the case of the Sun News Network, which continues to employ Mr. Levant.

Gerald Caplan nicely summarized the situation up to now on his Rabble.ca blog on Christmas Eve, observing, “somehow, it’s okay to utter the most viciously racist slurs about the Roma that would be wholly unacceptable if said about any other group on earth. Ezra Levant of the Sun News Network demonstrated as much recently with an astonishing hatemongering attack on the entire Roma people.”

While Sun News Network has done its best to suppress it, the Levant clip, which has been described as “nearly nine minutes of on-air racist hate speech,” can still be heard in audio format. The Toronto Police are said to be investigating the commentary under the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code.

For its part, Sun News Network has apologized for Mr. Levant’s hatemongering and attempted to wash his vicious screed down the corporate Memory Hole.

However, it’s hard to take the Sun News apology very seriously when it stated, “it was not the intent of Sun News, or anyone employed by Sun News, to promote negative stereotypes about the Roma people.” (Emphasis added.) They didn’t know Mr. Levant worked for them, then? They didn’t hear what he said about the Roma? Please!

So when Sun News Network says, “we regret our error in these broadcasts, and we apologize unreservedly to the Roma people and to you, our viewers,” that needs to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt by everyone concerned.

As for the perpetually loudmouthed Mr. Levant, he has uncharacteristically remained absolutely silent on this topic. Not only has he not apologized, he seems to have said nothing at all on the subject to anyone.

Now, I have to pause here to note that I do have a dog in this fight. I have been excoriated on the air by Mr. Levant for refusing to show up for a mugging on his Sun News Network program after I criticized his use on the air of a Spanish obscenity normally translated as “f**k your mother.”

In a June 26, 2012, segment of his Sun News Network program, The Source, which continues to be aired by the network via the Internet even as it seeks more generous licensing provisions from its friends in the Harper Government, Mr. Levant complained that I wouldn’t even respond to his emails.

“Now, I’ve invited Climenhaga onto this show several times,” Mr. Levant told his listeners. “He refuses to come on. I’ve sent him a list of questions, asking about his beef with me. He won’t even answer. … not even the courtesy to reply to me.” (You can listen to the entire thing here if you have a strong stomach and high resistance to boredom.)

“He’s not just a snitch and a bully, he’s awfully thin skinned too,” Mr. Levant concluded of me. “Big union boss, he can dish it out, but you can’t take it, eh?”

The title of this segment of his program was, “You want to silence me?” The implication, obviously, is that in Mr. Levant’s case that can’t be done.

So, seeing as I had Mr. Levant’s email address, courtesy of his missives to me in my role as a “big union boss” (I wish!), I wrote him and asked him if he would comment about his characterizations of the Roma people and the Sun News Network’s apology for his conduct. I even gave him a list of questions so that he would have the opportunity to ponder his replies. All the emails appear to have been received.

And you know what? Mr. Levant, this great free speaker who can’t be silenced, didn’t even give me the courtesy of a reply!

So I think we can conclude that, in fact, Mr. Levant can be silenced – although not, obviously, by decent Canadians who think he should act with some civility as well as stop hatemongering on the air.

Since he didn’t answer my questions, or even respond, I am really in no position to say what silenced the relentlessly noisy and noisome commentator, but it’s hardly beyond the realm of possibility, is it, that it was Sun News Network hoping to get the controversy to go away so it can get on with its bid for a better license and a larger reach to more Canadians to continue spreading Mr. Levant’s ugly views?

And small of me though it may be, it’s quite satisfying to see Mr. Levant revealed as a bully, thin-skinned and a hypocrite who can dish it out but can’t take it – just as I suspected.

But the bigger issue is Mr. Levant’s continued silence to all questioners about his hatemongering against the Roma.

Surely there is a line that can’t be crossed in Canadian public discourse and, unlike the case with his casual obscenities and lame banana jokes, this time Mr. Levant has crossed it.

So the time has come for him to apologize, sincerely and categorically. He can take comfort from the knowledge that a sincere apology, when you know in your heart you have gone too far, shows you as a bigger person and is good for the soul.

But if Mr. Levant will not apologize, Sun News Network needs to take more appropriate measures than a self-evidently insincere apology of its own or it will be fair for Canadians to conclude that it supports and endorses his hatemongering, and intends to continue enabling it.

In that case, we really need to ask ourselves as citizens if we ought to encourage Sun News Network’s ability to broadcast on-air racist hate speech with more generous licensing provisions.

Speak up, Mr. Levant!

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

12 Comments on "It’s time for Ezra Levant to apologize or explain his hateful Roma commentary"

  1. anonymous says:

    Didn’t you get the memo? The federal wildrose party will grant Sun TV more generous cable licensing rights. Now, all Canadians will be equally subjected to hate speech on their TVs regardless if they want it or not.

    But I still can’t figure out the wider wildrose agenda. If they destroy Canada, as seems to be their want, then they will destroy themselves in the process. It brings to mind the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

    The Scorpion and the Frog

    A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
    scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
    frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion
    says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

    The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
    the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
    paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
    but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

    Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…”

  2. Bruce A says:

    We can only hope that he’s struck by a lightning bolt from the Heavens and it rattles some decency into him, while hell freezes over and the Mayan galactic bridge reopens in the near future! Other than that, Ezra would be wise to inquire about careers as circus clowns, seeing that Mark Carney wasn’t really serious about the Liberal leadership!

    On a more serious note, he did have a rant about Chief Spence and her hunger strike. He just can’t help avoiding the histrionic’s, given Black Hole Sun’s four didget ratings. It’s the sort of thing you hear from country club bigots and it’s up to him carry the rest of the team.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFNYNmUNYdk

  3. Filostrato says:

    Mr. Levant believes in the principle of limited free speech, i.e. that any free speech is limited only to him. Any communication in the other direction is immediately yelled down before a point is allowed to be made or an argument put forward. Surely he can’t always have been like this? Did anyone know him when he was young, providing, of course, that he ever was young.

    Maybe the Sun execs have told Ezra to put a sock in it less they be saddled with a lawsuit, one they – and he – might lose. The money and conviction angles are the only ones I can see that could possibly convince him to “shut it”, as they say in the U.K.

    I would have thought that there was a limited (in every sense of the word) audience for Levant-type diatribes but the popularity of talk radio and rant TV in the U.S. shows that it isn’t the case.

  4. Alex P says:

    A little push back might help us avoid becoming this soon. http://goo.gl/f710z

    Given the leash length Sun News exercises with Hatemonger Ezra Levant, it seem intentional.

  5. fubar says:

    Can we start a petition on the whitehouse.gov site that rightwing nutjobs such as Levant must emigrate to the U.S. like the rest of their brethren (e.g. Mark Steyn, Rachel Marsden, etc., etc., etc.)? I would gladly sign, twice.

  6. Holly Stick says:

    He’s already moved on to producing hateful commentary and lies about aboriginal people.

  7. Bytowner says:

    I wouldn’t sign such a petition. Our American cousins have enough to deal with. Some of whom you’ve already named. Exiling Levant would be adding to their agonies.

  8. IdleMoMoney says:

    Never been a fan of conservatives they have a poor track record with paying down the debt I’ve never voted for them in a federal election only Mike Harris has got my vote in the past. However I like what is happening with immigration and the tracking down and shipping out criminals that do not belong here. When Sun news came out I was afraid of people being brainwashed by them and rallying the hard line conservatives. After digesting the last year or whenever sun news came out I have came to one concussion(I equally split between global news, CTV, CBC, sun news online,and American news) the news stories that are lacking are only getting covered by sun and sun only. I remember as a boy when my dad and my uncles would be all pissy about some injustice (like idle no more) or stupid law created well the CBC would do just as the sun network says covering what the CBC wants Canadians to here. Sun gives us something different that no one would do in Canada and I feel liberated by sun it’s great what there doing. I will always think conservatives are realigous stupid perverts the sun news network is a favorite for liberal minded people to.Ezra is golden

  9. Miche says:

    Ezra’s great. People have to own their own feelings. Feelings are transitory, self indulgent, subjective, and unstable. How did Ezra become the keeper of your feelings? You own your own feelings. Stop asking anyone else to be responsible for them. No one cares. You called him names back, now get over it and move on, you sound like a sissy. Did that hurt your feelings? Are the feelings police going to come?

  10. TNGMug says:

    So if you click on the audio link, it’s broken because Sun News filed a “Copyright claim”……

    Ya…. right…..

  11. Sharon says:

    Ezra is the only person in the media worth listening to. He tells nothing but the truth we are all thinking. The others simply ignore the facts they don’t like, are dictated by a pc culture of lies and hypocrisies and use their dying “news” papers to promote their own regressive political agenda.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. Who is driving the conservative agenda in Canada? | daveberta.ca - Alberta politics

Comment