by Don Feder (USA)
For a glimpse of fascism in action, you could see the Speilberg epic 'Schindler's List' - or cast a glance at our neighbour to the north. Someone should tell Canadian customs that the Wehrmacht lost the war.
A book I wrote was 'detained' by the authorities up there.
Michel Cléroux, a spokesman for Revenue Canada, insists my book wasn't 'banned,’ ‘confiscated' or 'seized' - verbs far too active and emotion-charged to describe a delicate situation.
The collection of my columns and speeches was merely 'detained'.
Detained for questioning, as crime reports used to say? I picture my book sitting in a windowless room with a bare light bulb dangling overhead, being interrogated by two burly Mounties: 'All right, let's have it: What did you really mean by that comment on Page 174?'
Actually, this is less a tale of brutal repression than of bumbling bureaucracy.
My book was among a shipment of nine from Huntington House Publishers of Lafayette, La., ordered by a gentleman in Winnipeg.
A customs agent in the Winnipeg post office examined the shipment and decided that one or more of the titles might possibly fall into a prohibited category, as set forth in Memorandum D9-1-1 of Revenue Canada. Under Canadian law, this includes material deemed obscene, 'hate propaganda' or 'of a seditious character.'
As to the last, who in his right mind would waste his time trying to overthrow the Canadian government? What would a conqueror do with a nation populated mostly by moose and lumberjacks - use it as a staging area for an invasion of the Arctic Circle?
I am not a First Amendment absolutist. I don't think intellectual inquiry is in anyway compromised by an effort to limit circulation of 'Heidi Has a Whip'. But the way in which Canadian customs mauls literary freedom is an absolute disgrace.
Huntington House publishes conservative titles, the farthest thing imaginable from pornography or genocidal pleading. Although, given the mind-set of Maple Leaf bureaucrats, they probably think Death of a Nation is treasonable and The Little Prince is the type of reading matter found on Michael Jackson's night stand.
I spoke to Cléroux and David Whitehouse, superintendent of the Winnipeg postal branch. Both initially refused to discuss the basis for the agent's decision.
Such a disclosure would be a 'breach of confidentiality,' said Whitehouse. Whose, I asked? The buyer wants to know why he can't have his books. The author and publisher are equally curious. That leaves the Canadian Government, which is determined to protect its own privacy.
I suspect that the reason the books were embargoed was so trivial and ludicrous that to reveal the same would embarrass Ottawa by demonstrating the inanity of its minions.
I was right.
After considerable prompting, Cléroux confessed it was the title, 'Hitler and the New Age' (an examination of Nazism and the Occult) that raised a red flag.
Would 'Rise And Fall of the Third Reich' or 'Hitler, A Profile in Tyranny,' also be detained?
Are Canadian customs officials so uncritical that any book with the word 'Hitler' in its title is automatically tagged when a perusal of the back cover or the introduction would demonstrate its innocuousness?
Canada's censorship system provides ample opportunities for abuse. Say one of its customs agents is a raving feminist who thinks family values is a misogynistic concept. She spies a book by Rush Limbaugh (who coined the term 'feminazi') and decides to call it pornographic, degrading to women, whatever. Off it goes to Ottawa, wrapped in customs tape for months.
And this is a nation whose policies we are urged to emulate.
O, Canada - US liberals love you. They adore your nationalized health care. They salute your gun control. In their eyes, you have taken multiculturalism to new heights.
You are also a stagnant, sterile land whose economy and culture is as inert as the frosted tundra of your frozen North. Unemployment is 11 percent; taxes and deficits have exploded.
Things are so swell in the land of hockey players and slow-running sap that what used to be the ruling party went from 155 parliamentary seats to two in the last election.
With Canada's manifold problems, its bureaucrats have nothing better to do than flog literature.
The story has a happy ending. After five weeks in custody, my book and the other eight were sprung from the Ottawa poky upon a determination of the Canadian thought police that they were not pornographic, prejudiced or seditious.
And that's how I was almost banned in Canada. Could Canadian customs conceivably combat neo-fascism without acting like men with monocles and swagger sticks?
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Les Relations des Jésuites contiennent 6 tomes et défont le mythe du bon Sauvage de Jean-Jacques Rousseau, et aussi des légendes indiennes pour réclamer des territoires, ainsi que la fameuse «spiritualité amérindienne».
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