Indeed, the principal ingredient unique to the pre-Hitler era was the introduction of Jennifer Lynch-type hate-speech laws that supposedly protect vulnerable minorities from “unspeakable acts.” You might as well argue that Weimar’s “reasonable limits” on free speech led to the Holocaust: after all, while anti-Semitism is “the oldest hatred,” it didn’t turn genocidal until the “reasonable limits” proponents of the day introduced group-defamation laws to Germany. ‘Tween-wars Europe was awash in prototype hate-crimes legislation. For example, the Versailles Conference required the new postwar states to sign on to the 1919 Minorities Protection Treaty, with its solemn guarantees of non-discrimination. I’m sure Canada’s many Jews of Mitteleuropean origin will be happy to testify to what a splendid job that far-sighted legislation did.
The problem the Jews found themselves up against in Germany and elsewhere was not the lack of hate-speech laws but the lack of protection of the common or garden laws — against vandalism and property appropriation and suchlike. One notes, by the way, that property rights are absent from Canada’s modish Charter of Rights. The reductio ad Hitlerum is the laziest form of argument, so it’s no surprise to find the defenders of the ever-more-intrusive “human rights” enforcers taking refuge in it. But it stands history on its head. Most of us have a vague understanding that Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag in February 1933 as a pretext to “seize” dictatorial powers. But, in fact, he didn’t “seize” anything because he didn’t need to. He merely invoked Article 48 of the Weimar Republic’s constitution, allowing the state, in the interests of the greater good, to set — what’s the phrase? — “reasonable limits” on freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom from unlawful search and seizure and surveillance of postal and electronic communications. The Nazis didn’t invent a dictatorship out of whole cloth. They merely took advantage of the illiberal provisions of a supposedly liberal constitution.
Oh, and by the way, almost all those powers the Nazis “seized” the morning after the Reichstag fire, the “human rights” commissions already have. In the name of cracking down on “hate,” Canada’s “human rights” apparatchiks can enter your premises without a warrant and remove any relevant “document or thing” (as the relevant Ontario legislation puts it) for as long as they want it. And without anybody burning the House of Commons or even the Senate.
Whether or not I’m the new Führer and Maclean’s is Mein Kampf, Commissars Lynch and Hall are either intentionally inverting the historical record or, to be charitable, simply ignorant. But, if it’s the latter, why should they have extraordinary powers to regulate public discourse?
I don’t have as low an opinion of Canadians as Barbara Hall and Jennifer Lynch do. I don’t believe your liberty is the conditional discretionary gift of hack bureaucrats advised by Marxist theorists. You defeat bad ideas — whether Nazism, Marxism, jihadism, Steynism or Trudeaupian pseudo-”human rights” mumbo-jumbo — in the bracing air and light of day, in vigorous open debate, not in the fetid corridors of power policed by ahistorical nitwits.
It’s not a left/right thing. It’s not a gay/straight thing. It’s not a Jew/Muslim thing. It’s not a hateful Steyn/nice fluffy caring compassionate Canadian thing.
It’s a free/unfree thing. And the commissars are on the wrong side.