Thursday, May 12, 2016
Dear Toronto Star: Grow a pair
Have the cojones to cite specific examples and name the writers you’re accusing, instead of engaging in a broad-based smear of your competitors.
Because when you’re calling them anti-Muslim -- Siddiqui, the Star’s former editorial page editor, slammed both Sun Media and Postmedia in a recent speech the Star published excerpts from -- without citing one example from either newspaper chain in the article, you’re being unprofessional.
Which is why I was surprised to see Honderich and Cruickshank -- both accomplished journalists I respect -- feeding into Siddiqui’s lazy attack on us by saying he was right -- again, without one concrete example provided in the article of what they were talking about.
Anyone who’s an editor knows what was going on here.
If you start naming individual writers as Islamophobic, as opposed to talking about a media corporation, the risk of libel suits skyrockets.
Corporations get called names all the time.
But calling an individual working for that corporation anti-Muslim and, in essence, a bigot, raises the stakes considerably.
As a long-time editor at Sun Media, here’s my answer to Siddiqui and the Star.
Since Sun Media includes the Toronto Sun and a substantial portion of our commentary on Islamic issues comes from two Muslim writers -- Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan -- your allegation is absurd.
I edit their columns and the idea that in being critical of Islamist terrorism and radical Islam they are being Islamophobic is ridiculous.
If you mean to suggest Fatah and Hassan are Islamophobic because they agreed with the majority of Canadians that a niqab-wearing woman should unveil her face at the moment she takes the oath of citizenship to Canada, why don’t you say it?
I’ve discussed this issue with both of them and their argument is that the niqab is essentially the political flag of radical Islam and should not be catered to in free and democratic societies.
One can disagree with this view, but to suggest it has no place in rational debate on the subject by labelling it “Islamophobic” would be ridiculous.
Hassan, Fatah and I constantly have editorial discussions about the importance of avoiding such concepts as group guilt and blaming all Muslims for the actions of some Muslims.
That said, writing that while most Muslims are not terrorists, a worrisome minority is and that their deadly attacks are often aimed at other Muslims, is not Islamophobic.
I have known Fatah and Hassan for years and work with them every week. They are thoughtful, learned and courageous individuals, who often have to endure vicious and unjustified attacks from radical Muslims against them.
Fatah responded to Siddiqui’s generalized smear against Sun Media last week in a column titled “The Toronto Star’s glass house” which you can read here.
Note this was in response to Siddiqui’s and the Star’s attack on us and that it cites specific examples from Siddiqui’s Toronto Star columns over the years to make the case he has often been an apologist for medieval Mideast dictatorships and an excuse maker for terrorism.
If you’ve got something to say, that’s how you say it -- naming names and citing examples.
As for the Star, it started this fight. Now, it’s finished.