Everyone should read Elie Wiesel’s obituary in the New York Times. Wiesel was at Auschwitz and Buchenwald when he was a teenager. It obviously was the seminal experience of his life. Such books as Night lay testament to the nightmare he endured.
If Wiesel had spent his entire life focused on the Holocaust, and the suffering of European Jews, no one could have blamed him. But he did not. He was an activist in the cause of human rights and dignity no matter the people suffering. He understood the universality of suffering and that those who have been innocent victims of maniacs share a common bond that goes beyond religion, ethnicity, colour and sexual orientation.
Let us recall that in Uganda there was serious consideration for executing gay men and women for simply being who they are and the current state of gay safety in the Middle East.
Wiesel died on the weekend. It was in the midst of a new round of terror bombings from Turkey to Bangladesh to Iraq. Dozens of innocent people, whose only crime was to be at the wrong bakery or at an airport were murdered for nothing.
These thoughts came to me while listening to some of the events around the Toronto gay pride parade. I want to be clear about one thing before continuing: I am not a believer in a gay conspiracy but I am critical of all levels of governments who make a fetish of gay rights and now transgender rights. The gay people I have met want to live a life free of discrimination and simply get on with being citizens. “Community leaders” who claim to speak for all should never fool us.
Everyone demands rights these days but those rights seem to create ghettos rather than open our civilization to the notion of solidarity with others who suffer unfairly for their beliefs and causes.
Yet it is clear that some rights now trump others.
Before getting back to the parade, think about the recent case of Trinity Western University, something I wrote about in a previous column. The Law Society of Upper Canada, in its attempt at protecting minority rights, has decided that any graduate of TWU’s law school should be forbidden from practicing their profession in Ontario. Aside from the fact there is no proof that TWU graduates are bigots, the law society is now discriminating against a minority of orthodox Christians. But that is the logic of today’s secularists.
To make one other diversion, think about one of the key debates concerning euthanasia. It was simply whether physicians had the right to refuse to refer their patients who request medical suicide. Ontario and Saskatchewan have already said doctors who refuse to refer are in grave danger of losing their career. Another minority denied their freedom of conscience simply because their conscience does not fit with what passes for fairness in today’s warped worldview.
Back to the weekend’s parade: two important things are worth noting as they are both prime examples of when rights and greed combine into a noxious substance.
During the parade there was a minute of silence for the victims of the Orlando massacre. It was an absolutely disgusting crime against people who were doing nothing but dancing and having a good time and, yes, being gay. Yet would it not have been more generous in remembering those who died in one terror incident to acknowledge the carnage that was happening around the world?
What all these victims had in common was that somehow they offended the insane ideas of a group of Islamic thugs who will never be happy until every vestige of joy and pluralism is wiped off the face of the earth.
Perhaps there were some on the crowd who thought about others but that was not the main theme.
Finally, the group Black Lives Matter, interrupted the parade with a sit-in causing a 30-minute delay in which the protesting group demanded such things as no more police floats in future parades. I will not go further into their arguments because what they want is not really the issue. It was yet another group focused on their own issues rather than something more universal.
But no one should have been surprised, least of all the organizers of the march, about this protest. When you have an event so focused so tightly on one aspect of the human person do not be surprised if subgroups start to pop up.
On the weekend of the parade, the homilist at Holy Family in Toronto, made mention of the celebrations dominating the city. He simply said that there is a group today linked by their sexuality. But, he added, we are at this Eucharist united in Christ. He might have added: the most universal symbol of suffering humanity.
In these woeful days it was a good reminder that our faith helps us see past all the selfishness of a world gone crazy. Some days the best we can do is look up and then bow our heads in prayer.
Charles Lewis is a regular contributor to The Catholic Register and a board member of the Catholic Civil Rights League. He has been writing for 36 years. He was also the religion reporter for the National Post until January 2014.
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