by Ezra Levant
What’s going on in Quebec cannot be called protests. The right word is riots.
That’s what you call it when masked vandals smash cars, break windows in banks and shops, night after night. And that’s on top of the smoke bombs thrown in the subway stations earlier this month that paralyzed the city’s transit system.
How is this any different from the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver?
It is different, of course. It’s worse.
Vancouver’s riot was spontaneous. They weren’t backed up with official NGOs and union organizers and bank accounts and spokesmen and press releases.
The Montreal riots are a criminal industry.
But blame also apportions to the people whose duty it is to stop riots — but who haven’t.
The police, who too often stood by idly because they didn’t want the rough work of a confrontation. Even when peaceful students got a court injunction demanding they be allowed to attend class, the cops refused to enforce the injunction and clear protesters blockading school doorways.
But at the end of the day, the man responsible is the premier, Jean Charest. He is the one who has permitted these riots to stretch for four months.
Worse, he has rewarded it. He negotiated with the rioters. He responded to their law-breaking by allowing them to direct his law-making.
Last week, things took a darker turn. Masked students stormed through universities, going classroom to classroom seeking out students who dared to study and teachers who dared to teach them.
If they found a class going on, they’d storm into the room. Flick the lights on and off. Jump on desks. Shout and scream. And even physically grab students inside, screaming and swearing at them, terrifying them.
When you wear a mask, trespass in schools, hunt down law-abiding students, then disrupt them and physically push them — they are terrified. And if you are doing so to terrorize them into not going to class, and to join your political protest, that is terrorism.
This, in the city where Marc Lepine burst into classes and shot women.
Last Thursday, four months late, Charest proposed a new response: Laws against rioting. And a delay in the school year.
Quebec doesn’t need new laws. The Criminal Code is full of them. Charest always had the tools — he was just too cowardly to use them.
But his plans to cancel the current semester, and reschedule it months from now, is shocking. That is the perfect reward for the protesters, doing what they couldn’t do on their own: Bring Quebec’s universities grinding to a halt.
Charest — not the rioters — has derailed not only students’ education, but also their plans for summer jobs.
Back in 1957, nine black students signed up to all-white Little Rock Central High school. Then, as now, masked protesters wanted to stop it. Then, it was the Ku Klux Klan. And the state’s racist governor, a Democrat named Orval Faubus, deployed the state’s national guard to stop the black kids from going in.
The president at the time, a Republican named Dwight Eisenhower, showed what you do when kids are being illegally blocked from school.
He federalized the state’s national guard, taking it out of the hands of the governor. And he deployed the 101st Airborne Division to escort the black kids in.
That’s what leadership is about. Eisenhower was a leader. He de-segregated the schools. He let the black kids learn.
If the Klan had broken into that school, flicked the lights on and off, shouted at the black kids, and disrupted their studies, do you think Ike would have cancelled the semester? Negotiated with the Klan? He would have sent in soldiers. Not to destroy civil rights. Not Trudeau-style, to put the state under martial law. But to uphold civil law — the right to be free from violence, the right to the rule of law.
Charest is no Eisenhower. He’s Neville Chamberlain, appeasing the rioters. He’s a coward. And the good kids of Montreal are being sold out by him.
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