Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Whitewashing History

I have noticed before that the people who seem most zealous in the work of removing "hate" from the public square can be sometimes not so squeaky clean themselves.

But then, liberals seem to be a bit tone deaf in the irony department. (and we all know that the term "hypocrite" is synonymous with "evangelical fundamentalist" therefore by definition it cannot apply to a liberal)

So let's spell it out for them shall we?

To set up the scene. (Decision here)

Cheryl Balcilek is a university student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia. During her studies there she took a course called "Psychology of Genocide" taught by Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani. She is of Turkish origin.

Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani is a professor who teaches at Kwantlen, UBC, and Capilano with a specific interest in "The psychology of terrorism, political decision-making, ethnopolitical violence and genocide, human information-processing". I don't know what his background is (Asian?, maybe East Indian??)

Are we all clear now? Good.

So in the course of the "Psychology of Genocide" class they talk about the Armenian massacre. It being, like, you know, something of a genocide and all.

Except Ms. Balcilek is not so happy. In the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal she alleges that she experienced discrimination in grading and so forth because she was Turkish. She also claims that a comment was made and reading material was assigned that was discriminatory. Leaving aside the matter of discriminatory grading/conduct (which the Tribunal dismissed anyway) we move onto the interesting stuff.

Exhibit A - Discriminatory Comment made in Lecture: "“he could not believe that Turkey, as a nation, “would not own up to the Armenian genocide”"

Got it? Criticizing a nation for being a genocide-denier is... hate speech? Moving on.
"Ms. Balcilek refers to reading material assigned later in the semester that made derogatory remarks about Turkish people and Turkey as a nation. In particular, she referred to the articles “Shall Armenia Perish” by Henry Morgenthau (the “Morgenthau Article”) which makes derogatory references to Turks calling them “unspeakable Turks”, “lower class Turks”, and other such references. She also refers to “another biased article by Miller and Miller” that was included in the Course curricula."...On October 24, Ms. Bakilek alleges that during a lecture (the “October 24 Class”), Dr. Jhangiani made eye contact with her and stated that the Morgenthau article “was excellent”....Ms. Balcilek submits that the Morgenthau Article, in particular, and an article by Miller and Miller amounts to discrimination by way of publication under the Code.
I don't know exactly what the Miller and Miller article was but I did find through Google search that there is a book called "Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide" by a Miller and Miller. Editorial review here.

The article by Henry Morgenthau "Former Ambassador to Turkey, and National Vice-Chairman of Near East Relief " is available here (it's short don't worry)

By the way, context for the "derogatory references to Turks calling them...“lower class Turks”".
"Next the women would be sorted out. Agents of the Turk officers picked the youngest and fairest for their masters' harems. Next the civil officials had their pick, and then the remainder either were sold for one medjidi-a silver coin valued at about 80 cents-or were driven forth to be seized by the lower class Turks and Kurds."
Somehow it seems much less... hateful when you realize that Morgenthau was using the phrase to contrast them with upper class Turks.

Then on to Dr. Jhangiani for an explanation.
Dr. Jhangiani provides an explanation for the educative role served by the Morgenthau Article first published in 1920. He admits that he may have made a comment that the Morgenthau Article was a good representation of attitudes held by a segment of the population at that time. He denies making any negative comments about Turkish people or Turkey as a nation. Dr. Jhangiani deposes that the Course and its reading list was modelled after a very similar course he took at the University of British Columbia called the Psychological Aspects of Genocide;
So hate speech aside maybe it didn't all happen anyway.

To their credit the Tribunal dismissed the application saying that,
"The articles complained of, the Morgenthau Article published in 1920, and the reference to the Miller and Miller article were included in a course that sought to understand human psychology in circumstances of genocide. In the context of a Course which critically analyses historical events of genocide, the use of historical articles to demonstrate principles or concepts would not constitute a violation of s. 7 of the Code. Considering all of the material filed, I conclude that Ms. Balcilek’s complaint under s. 7(1)(a) or (b) has no reasonable prospect of success. Her complaint under s. 7(1) of the Code is dismissed."

Leaving aside the fact that Dr. Jhangiani had to deal with allegations of discrimination, unfair grading, and insinuations that he might physically attack Ms. Balcilek.
Ms. Balcilek alleges that upon notification of Dr. Jhangiani’s complaint, she was hesitant to attend the Course because she feared for her physical safety.
We can only hope she didn't text too much of that stuff around to her friends at the university.

But I have tried your patience long enough after giving you that hook about irony at the beginning. The irony may be found in one of Ms. Balcilek's allegations against Dr. Jhangiani.
She alleges that he made inconsistent comments about her writing and reacted “offensively” when she asked him is he was having trouble following her writing because her English was too sophisticated. (bolds mine)
All right, so without making any unfounded judgments about motive here can anyone think of a reason why a student might ask a professor if their "English was too sophisticated" for them? Anyone? Anyone?


  1. A good piece and further proof our "Human Rights" system does not work.

  2. Sstupidity combined with arrogance spring to mind!!

  3. Good job with the research.

  4. Was going through some old mails in an old account I don't use anymore. Came across Cheryl's emails and remembered, if it was indeed Cheryl I was mailing all those years ago, I can easily say she is actually crazy. This sounds exactly like the type of stuff she used to say. I think she's just unbalanced.